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The Edge of Mosby’ s Sword is the first scholarly volume to delve into the story of one of John Singleton Mosby’ s most trusted and respected officers, Colonel William Henry Chapman. Presenting both military and personal perspectives of Chapman’ s life, Gordon B. Bonan offers an in-depth understanding of a man transformed by the shattering of his nation. This painstakingly researched account exposes a soldier and patriot whose convictions compelled him to battle fiercely for Southern independence; whose quest for greatness soured when faced with the brutal realities of warfare; and who sought to heal his wounded nation when the guns of war were silenced. Born into a wealthy slave-owning family, Chapman was a student of the fiery secessionist rhetoric of antebellum Virginia who eagerly sought glory and adventure on the battlefields of the Civil War. Bonan traces Chapman’ s evolution from an impassioned student at the University of Virginia to an experienced warrior and leader, providing new insight into the officer’ s numerous military accomplishments. Explored here are Chapman’ s previously overlooked endeavors as a student warrior, leader of the Dixie Artillery, and as second-in-command to Mosby, including his participation in the capture of Harpers Ferry, the battering of Union forces at Second Manassas, and his ferocious raids during the 1864 Shenandoah Valley campaign. Bonan reveals fresh perspectives on the intrepid maneuvers of Mosby’ s Rangers, the hardships of war, and Chapman’ s crucial role as the right hand of the “ Gray Ghost.” But while Mosby recognized him for his bravery and daring, the fame Chapman sought always eluded him. Instead, with his honors and successes came disillusionment and sorrow, as he watched comrades and civilians alike succumb to the terrible toll of the war. The end of the struggle between North and South saw Chapman accept defeat with dignity, leading the Rangers to their official surrender and parole at Winchester. With the horrors of the war behind him, he quickly moved to embrace the rebuilding of his country, joining the Republican party and beginning a forty-two-year career at the IRS enforcing Federal law throughout the South. In the end, Chapman’ s life is a study in contradictions: nationalism and reconciliation; slavery and liberty; vengeance and chivalry.
During the Civil War, John Singleton Mosby led the Forty-third Battalion, Virginia Cavalry, better known as Mosby's Rangers, in bold and daring operations behind Union lines. Throughout the course of the war, more than 2000 men were members of Mosby's command, some for only a short time. Mosby had few confidants (he was described by one acquaintance as "a disturbing companion") but became close friends with one of his finest officers, Samuel Forrer Chapman. Chapman served with Mosby for more than two years, and their friendship continued in the decades after the war. Take Sides with the Truth is a collection of more than eighty letters, published for the first time in their entirety, written by Mosby to Chapman from 1880, when Mosby was made U.S. consul to Hong Kong, until his death in a Washington, D.C., hospital in 1916. These letters reveal much about Mosby's character and present his innermost thoughts on many subjects. At times, Mosby's letters show a man with a sensitive nature; however, he could also be sarcastic and freely derided individuals he did not like. His letters are critical of General Robert E. Lee's staff officers ("there was a lying concert between them") and trace his decades-long crusade to clear the name of his friend and mentor J. E. B. Stuart in the Gettysburg campaign. Mosby also continuously asserts his belief that slavery was the cause of the Civil War -- a view completely contrary to a major portion of the Lost Cause ideology. For him, it was more important to "take sides with the Truth" than to hold popular opinions. Peter A. Brown has brought together a valuable collection of correspondence that adds a new dimension to our understanding of a significant Civil War figure.
An illustrated tale of the Confederacys large-scale war technology told by a quintet of experts
Like its companion volume, Faces of the Civil War: An Album of Union Soldiers and Their Stories, this book offers readers a unique perspective on the war and contributes to a better understanding of the role of the common soldier.
Christopher Phillips has brought to life a man, a story, and a voice lost in the din of competing post-Civil War narratives that each claim a timeless divide between North and South. William Barclay Napton (1808-1883) was an editor, lawyer, and state supreme court justice who lived in Missouri during the tumultuous American nineteenth century. He was a keen observer of the nation's sectional politics just as he was a participant in those of his border state, the most divided of any in the nation, in the decades surrounding the Civil War. This book tells the story of one man's civil war, lived and waged within the broader conflict, and the long shadows both cast. But Napton's story moves beyond the Civil War just as it transcends the formal political realm. His is a fascinating tale of identity politics and their shifting currents, by which the highly educated former New Jerseyite became the owner or trustee of nearly fifty slaves and one of the most committed and thoughtful of the nation's proslavery ideologues. That a "northerner" could make such a life transition in the Border West suggests more than the powerful nature of slavery in antebellum American society. Napton's story offers provocative insights into the process of southernization, one driven more by sectional ideology and politics than by elements of a distinctive southern culture. Although Napton's tragic Civil War experience was a watershed in his southern evolution, that evolution was completed only after he had constructed a politicized memory of the bitter conflict, one that was suffered nowhere worse than in Missouri. This war-driven transformation ultimately defined him and his family, just as it would his border state and region for decades to come. By suffering for the South, losing family and property in his defense of its ideals and principles, he claimed by right what he could not by birth. Napton became a southerner by choice. Drawn from incomparable personal journals kept for more than fifty years and from voluminous professional and family correspondence, Napton's life story offers a thoughtful and important perspective on the key issues and events that turned this northerner first into an avowed proslavery ideologue and then into a full southerner. As a prominent jurist who sat on Missouri's high bench for more than a quarter century, he used his politicized position to give birth to the New South in the Old West. Students, teachers, and general readers of southern history, western history, and Civil War history will find this book of particular interest.
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