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Bloody Autumn

Bloody Autumn: The Shenandoah Valley Campaign of 1864. Daniel T. Davis and Phillip S. Greenwalt. El Dorado Hills: Savas Beatie LLC, 2013. 148 pgs.

This book by Daniel T. Davis and Phillip S. Greenwalt is part of the excellent Emerging Civil War Series by publishing company Savas Beatie. As a rule, the books provide a good summary of the battle in question, with numerous appendices related to driving tours and additional context for the battle. This book exceeds high standards already set by the series.

Davis and Greenwalt do an excellent job in providing a coherent summary of this complicated campaign. The strategic context for both sides flows into opening moves and through the various engagements to its conclusion. The appendices are delightful, providing multiple driving tours and a section on battlefield preservation as well as an excellent essay on the campaign in memory. The work doesn’t attempt to answer every question about the campaign, but provides a solid foundation for further in-depth study of any of the engagements or the campaign as a whole. I found the historical perspective fair and well-balanced, neither lionizing nor vilifying the leaders of either side.

Cartographer Hal Jesperson’s excellent maps are plentiful and easily understood, a rarity in such works. They not only help the reader follow the campaign from home, but the driving tours make it much easier for people to explore the field today.

I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the Civil War, both beginners and those well-versed in the war.