Academic journal article
By Ramage, James A.
The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography , Vol. 108, No. 2
Civil War Eyewitnesses: An Annotated Bibliography of Books and Articles, 1986-1996. By GAROLD L. COLE. Foreword by JAMES I. ROBERTSON, JR. Columbia, S.C.: University of South Carolina Press, 2000. ix, 271 pp. $39.95.
THis valuable book is a bibliography of 596 eyewitness accounts of the Civil War published or reprinted as books or articles between 1986 and 1996. Garold L. Cole's previous book, Civil War Eyewitnesses: An Annotated Bibliography of Books and Articles 1955-1986 (1988), presents the same information for another 1,395 entries. Both books fill gaps in historical reference and should be included in every library and every Civil War researcher's collection. Cole, library professor and reference librarian at Illinois State University, reports that public and scholarly interest in firsthand Civil War narratives is increasing. Many television and film viewers have enjoyed productions that focused on contemporary narration and brought to life the drama and human side of the war. Historians have focused increasingly on eyewitness accounts to develop themes relating to motivation, morale, conduct under fire, and race and gender.
Most of the accounts are diaries, journals, letters, and memoirs, but also included are scholarly books and articles that emphasize firsthand writings. Cole's wellwritten annotations identify when and where the document was written and indicate rank, units, military engagements, and places where the soldiers served. Cole briefly describes the writer's activities and summarizes the person's attitudes, feelings, and reactions to the war. Most of the annotations are more detailed and lengthier than those in the previous volume, and, by including more quotations, Cole enables many of the narrators to speak for themselves, which is unusual in a bibliography. The useful index includes units, places, battles, and subjects such as African American Union soldiers, slaves and slavery, women, and women soldiers masquerading as men in the Union army.
More so than Cole's earlier book, this volume gives the researcher an idea of the quality of the entry and the focus of the writer. …