Synopses & Reviews
"Hess's argument. . . Calls into question the historical importance of the rifle-muskets, thus becoming one of the most significant historiographical debates among currently practicing Civil War military historians. . . . A valuable contribution."
The North Carolina Historical Review "A very readable, intelligent history of the Civil War in the east with emphases on fortifications."
OCWOC: A Civil War Blog "This groundbreaking book should inspire other historians to take on similar difficult but important topics. . . . When completed, [this] remarkable study will be as original, as sophisticated, as significant, and as welcome as any Civil War military history yet published."
The Register of the Kentucky Historical Society "A visit to one of the sites covered in the work will profit from Hess' description of the terrain and the armies' fortifications."
Civil War News "Recommended to anyone interested in the creation, use, and effectiveness of Civil War field fortifications."
On Point "Field fortifications played a major role in the American Civil War, evolving from a widely despised expedient to a universally recognized necessity. It is a cause for astonishment that no one has attempted a scholarly look at that burgeoning military development--until now. Field Armies and Fortifications, by Earl J. Hess, ably takes on the important topic, and makes a significant contribution to our understanding of the war. (Robert K. Krick, author of Stonewall Jackson at Cedar Mountain and The Smoothbore Volley That Doomed the Confederacy)"
The eastern campaigns of the Civil War involved the widespread use of field fortifications, from Big Bethel and the Peninsula to Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Charleston, and Mine Run. While many of these fortifications were meant to last only as long as the battle, Earl J. Hess argues that their history is deeply significant. The Civil War saw more use of fieldworks than did any previous conflict in Western history.
Hess studies the use of fortifications by tracing the campaigns of the Army of the Potomac and the Army of Northern Virginia from April 1861 to April 1864. He considers the role of field fortifications in the defense of cities, river crossings, and railroads and in numerous battles. Blending technical aspects of construction with operational history, Hess demonstrates the crucial role these earthworks played in the success or failure of field armies. He also argues that the development of trench warfare in 1864 resulted from the shock of battle and the continued presence of the enemy within striking distance, not simply from the use of the rifle-musket, as historians have previously asserted.
Based on fieldwork at 300 battle sites and extensive research in official reports, letters, diaries, and archaeological studies, this book should become an indispensable reference for Civil War historians.
Hess provides a narrative history of the use of fortifications--particularly trenches and other semi-permanent earthworks--used by Confederate and Union field armies at all major battle sites in the eastern theater of the Civil War. This comprehensive history will be an indispensable reference for Civil War buffs and historians.
About the Author
Earl J. Hess is associate professor of history at Lincoln Memorial University. He is author of seven previous books, including Lee's Tar Heels: The Pettigrew-Kirkland-MacRae Brigade and Pickett's Charge--The Last Attack at Gettysburg.