On August 28, 1861, approximately 500 men of the 100th Pennsylvania (Roundhead) Regiment boarded a train (a first for most of them) and rode for 50 miles to reach Pittsburgh. They arrived in the evening and took a supper break provided by a local welcoming committee. Each man received a slice of buttered bread, a hunk of sausage, two pickles and a cup of coffee. Then they marched out to the local fair grounds, where they were sent to bed down in one of the livestock barns. One soldier described them in their stalls, "kicking at fleas, bed bugs, and many other awful creeping things which existed only in imagination."
Those are the kind of details you need to know if you are researching events during the Civil War. But they are not the details you find in most history books. A Scratch with the Rebels, first published in 2007, draws its information from newspapers and official military papers, as well as the letters, diaries, and family keepsakes of two Civil War soldiers: a Pennsylvania Yankee and a South Carolina Confederate. These two inexperienced young men joined their respective military organizations in late 1861 and spent the next several months waiting for a chance to see action. They met only once on a battlefield outside of Charleston in June, 1862. And for one of them, it was the last action he would ever see.
Next week (March 28 through April 1) we will be offering readers a double-barreled deal. My first Civil War book has been published in two editions--an electronic version will be offered on Kindle for free and the original scholarly paper edition will be available at an 80% price reduction through my own website. Here's how they differ.
The first edition was written as a history monograph, intended primarily for an academic audience, and as such, it contained full academic apparatus--not just an index and bibliography but also appendices and full footnotes on all source materials. The traditional publisher, however, had a different audience in mind. They wanted to target people visiting Civil War museums and battlefields in Pennsylvania. With that goal in mind, they insisted that I add detailed maps and illustrations, and they redesigned the layout to create a size that would catch the eye of casual passers-by. The book ended up being over-priced but neither fish nor fowl.
Then they attempted to publish an electronic version that duplicated the printed one, only to find that the combination of multiple illustrations and hundreds of footnotes made such a plan unworkable. They struggled with it for years before giving up and allowing the electronic publishing rights to revert to me.
At that point, I did a major re-design, creating a new and different second edition, designed specifically for digital presentation. The changes involved removing the notes and illustrations, rewriting several chapters to appeal to a more general audience, and creating a new cover illustration. That second edition, published in 2014, is the one that is now available in the Kindle store and will be free all next week . It is also the one I suggest you read first, since the price can't be beat! Find it here.
Then, for those who want more detail, I have the second offer. Recently the original publisher decided to get out of the book-publishing business entirely to concentrate on doing rare book rebinding. And that meant that the scholarly edition of A Scratch with the Rebels would go out of print. Rather than let them simply scrap the remaining copies, I arranged to buy the remaining stock of around 60 books at an 80% price reduction. Those books are now available for $5.00 plus postage and handling on my own website, for as long as supplies last.