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Book Reviews

These are some reviews from a recent issue of The Civil War News:

 


Arms and Equipment of the Civil War

by Jack Coggins.

Illustrated, bibliography, index, softcover, 160 pp., 2004 reprint. Dover Publications Inc., 31 East 2nd St., Mineola, NY, 11501, $12.95 plus shipping.



An old friend is back in print and I for one am glad to see its reappearance. In 1962 illustrator and historian Jack Coggins published a book that was not about generals or battles but about the things one should know before delving into those areas.

Coggins’s book is set up to help those who might be interested the Civil War but perhaps are confused by the scope of the conflict and not really sure how the war was actually fought. To remedy this, his book is comprised of 10 illustrated chapters that deal with the major service branches and what made them function.

The book is a look at the more general weapons and pieces of equipment used by both armies as well as examples of exactly how they were used. Diagrams show time and pace for attacking infantry and cavalry against artillery, and what types of projectiles would be used against the attackers. There is a two-page diagram showing how siege operations were conducted and a page illustrating the positions and duties of members of a field gun crew.

Infantry and dismounted cavalry battle formations are explained and illustrated. The effect of round and conical ammunition on the attacker is shown along with what the Civil War “kill zone” would be. There are a number of tables on ammunition and artillery as well as illustrations for these areas.

Other chapters cover the medical services, subsistence departments, railroads, balloons, military telegraphy, engineers and navies. There are illustrations on every page and the inside covers show federal corps and officer rank insignia, and Confederate officer rank insignia.

This is a book of basics. When you finish you will understand combat formations and the weapons used by and against them. You will have a general knowledge of uniforms, ordnance, soldier shelters, vehicles, use of pontoons, colors, codes and field music. Now you are ready to curl up with the latest book on your favorite battle or general.

The book is well written and illustrated. It is in softcover but the paper is high quality and well bound. The author has created a work for those who are just beginning their interest in the Civil War or those who need a refresher course. This would also be an excellent background book for those taking high school or college courses about the war. Jack Coggins gave us a welcome addition to any Civil War library.


Dale E. Biever

Dale E. Biever received his M.Ed. in American history from Kutztown University. He is past vice president for administration and former member of the Board of Governors of the Company of Military Historians. A retired educa-tor, he was registrar at the Civil War Library and Museum in Philadelphia.


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