Book Review by Colin Wilks March 2023
Earl J Hess is one of the most prolific American Civil War authors out there dealing with many subjects that either get minimum or no coverage in other books. Here are three of his that can really be covered in 1 review as they all use the same format to tell different stories.
Each one is really an “everything you wanted to know” and “stuff you never knew you wanted to know” book. Each will be used in different ways depending on the person reading them. If you enjoy high detail and digging right down into the subject you will be able to read these from cover to cover. They can also be used as almost encyclopaedias of each subject.
I read the Artillery book from cover to cover, it is fascinating and amongst many other things majors on the construction of the barrel/tube, the gun carriage, limbers and caissons. Each chapter is broken down into sub sections, for instance, the chapter on “Hardware” has the following sub-sections: tube, sighting devices, vents, ignition, carriages and sabots, breakdown of carriages, limbers, caissons and miscellaneous hardware. It is almost a guide in how to build your own ACW Artillery Brigade including the materials you will need. The rest of the book will tell you how to use and take care of your cannon and associated equipment!
Now, take each of the 15 chapters and section them up as per the above example and you have an idea of the amount of incredible, wonderful, readable information each book contains.
The Logistics and Supply and Strategy books follow the same pattern with examples of who used what system during the war. It is a well known fact that there are far more Union resources available as opposed to Confederate records so these books could be criticised as having a northern leaning to them but this is an unavoidable factor. Mr Hess also makes use of diaries and journals which even things out a bit.
One extremely interesting and surprising study in the Civil War Logistics book is the different policies and systems regarding railways/railroads used by both sides. After reading I believe this is one of the major factors that won the Union forces the war. See what you think.
Mr Hess started out by authoring books regarding ACW trenches and fortifications, all of which I highly recommend especially those used in the Overland Campaign, but soon found other subjects which were crying out to be seriously researched. It is to our good fortune that he did.
Now I’m about to settle down with my next book, it’s called “Sherman, Johnston and the Atlanta Campaign, Kennesaw Mountain”, who’s the author? Some one called Earl J Hess!