Received Mine today also!!!
Although its no secret that I consider myself a friend and pard of the esteemed Mr. Barry, I thought that I would offer some unsolicited commentary on this publication (you may take allowances for any bias I may have). After taking some time to read all chapters, letting them set in for a few weeks, and then re-reading, I hoped to get a better feel for how the various articles sat in memory, as I do with most research-type books and monographs. This one passes that test in my eyes. It is impossible to have a comprehensive material culture book on Confederates in just a couple of hundred pages - unlike the Columbia Rifles Research Compendium for Federals. It is an injustice to call this book the "be-all, end-all", as it just scrapes the surface, but in a very good way. The topics that Craig touches on are major points in any CS impression, but gives you enough cited sources to continue your own research. This is a very good approach to an edited group of essays, and it is fitting for the newest recruit to the most jaded/grizzled veteran. I learned a lot by reading this, and even though I already know a fair bit, it reinforced or strengthened the knowledge. Friendships aside, I highly recommend this book, as it deserves space next to Arliskas' "Cadet Gray and Butternut Brown", the CRRC, Woshner's "India Rubber and Gutta Percha in the Civil War", Webster's "Entrepot", Adolphus', Gaede's, and Brown's works, and any of Mr. Barry's earlier works and collaborations. This book is a primer and an inspiration to do more individual research.
I've been meaning to come back to this thread, thanks for posting it up, Ross.
I am nearly finished with my copy. As a newbie to things Civil War this book is fantastic. It gives a lot of insight into many aspects of Confederate life, and I'd consider it an excellent starting point for anyone interested in doing a Confederate impression. While Ross is correct that a book like this cannot cover everything, it seems safe to say that if you did only what was in this book you would have a great impression.
I'd recommend this book to anyone, especially people new to the era.
I don't know where I've been, but I totally missed this Thread. Just ordered mine on Amazon.com, they show 11 still in stock.
I just came across this review of the book, and it pretty much echoes my thoughts:
There is a popular saying among the military history crowd that “amateurs study tactics and professionals study logistics.” As with most aphorisms this one is of course, not entirely true. Professionals do indeed study tactics, albeit in more depth than then a guy wandering Cemetery Ridge speculating that if Pickett had broken the Union center the Confederacy would have won the Civil War in an afternoon.
Truth be told, professional soldiers and professional historians study both tactics and logistics in the realization that the former cannot be decisive without the successful application of the latter.
Over several decades of reading and writing military history, I have steadily become more interested in logistics, and area of study conspicuously absent from popular centennial accounts of the Civil War. What I have found is that many of the assumptions of that earlier commemorative era regarding small arms, ammunition, food and clothing were based on, to be kind, folklore.
Those tales, often spun by partisans of one side or the other in the years following the war, were uncritically adopted and amplified by many old-school historians. They chose to concentrate on strategy and tactics and let folklore fill in the blanks. In the decades since, many of those fictions have been disproved, but some, most notably that the range of the rifle-musket was responsible for the war’s heavy casualties, still survive in the public and journalistic imagination.
In recent years much more attention has been paid to material culture and, hence logistics. A lot of this emphasis has been due to the growth of a serious desire in the (re)enactment community to accurately portray soldiers and civilians of the era in an “authentic” manner. This trend, to my mind, is a very positive one that is leading to a happy marriage between scholars and hobbyists, wherein each group can support and assist the other in achieving its separate goals.
The Unfinished Fight, a collection of essays on Confederate material culture by Craig L Barry, seems directed primarily at the living history practitioner determined to get things right down to, at the risk of alluding to a well-worn cliché, the “last stitch.” But it is also valuable for anyone interested in how the Confederacy clothed, armed and equipped its armies. A shining example is Barry’s informative opening essay on the complicated Southern uniform supply system, frankly a chaotic mess involving issue by central and state governments, as well as individual soldiers to themselves, in the war’s initial years.
This essay is valuable to a (re)enactor looking to perfect an impression and also to the historian considering logistics and supply as part of the overall Confederate war effort.
Several of Barry’s essays deal with firearms, an area with which I am quite familiar. His state-by-state breakdown of Confederate arms availability in 1861 is particularly useful, especially his estimates of smoothbore muskets still in their original flintlock ignition configurations. Barry’s detailed description of these weapons, while not new to the advanced firearms student, is quite informative to the non-expert, and his footnotes provide leads for further study. His essays on the Austrian Lorenz in the Confederate service and the British-style cartridge for the Enfield are valuable as well because these topics are not widely covered elsewhere.
Barry’s chapter on Confederate made bayonets and knives, both Bowie and pocket styles, is of considerable interest. Unsurprisingly, the large-bladed, cumbersome Bowies so often seen on display in early war ambrotypes were often discarded early in the war in favor of more useful pocket cutlery. Both varieties were more often used as bacon-cutters than as weapons. In perhaps the most famous self-defense stabbing incident of the war, General Nathan Bedford Forrest stuck Lieutenant Andrew Gould, who had pulled a revolver on him, with a pocket knife. Gould did not survive his wound.
Other essays cover Confederate knapsacks, canteens, rations, tobacco use, the home front and more diverse topics. Some of those, including stories about Jews and Irishmen in the Confederacy, might seem somewhat off-theme. Barry, however, does an excellent job discussing all these varied subjects. An excellent technique, which he uses throughout the book, is the insertion of illustrative primary source material in the text at relevant points.
All in all, this is a very worthwhile work for the Civil War buff, whether an authentic (re)enactor or student of the war who wants to go beyond who outflanked who at Kickapoo Crossroads.
Joe Bilby, Civil War News, December 2012
I have to say Joe Bilby's review in Civil War News was a very pleasant surprise and given his credentials, quite gratifying. It apparently struck a nerve with him on some level. He is right that some essays appear "off theme" because of the history of the material (being written as part of a larger overall effort that fell through). Anyway...The Unfinished Fight book is back in stock (on Amazon) for any interested. Also, Lodgewood Mfg, BRI, Fall Creek and Regqtm has them or will shortly.
Hope inventory arrives at 90-degrees North Lattitude in time for Christmas...
I've asked Santa for a copy, and I've been a good boy this year!
Seriously, though... I'm looking forward to getting my hands on a copy!
The Unfinished Fight
Well the books are on hand now. Check Amazon.com or one of the retail vendors. Five shipped out today and seventeen are going out tomorrow...
My copy of The Unfinished Fight was a Christmas gift from my wife from my wish list - with a little extra info from me on how to buy it. I've read most of it by now, and heartily congratulate Craig Barry for the effort and the end product. Essay after essay has me highlighting little bits to remember and pass along to others. I guess my two personal favorites are the essay towards the back that shows a photo of a Tennessee Reb soldier wearing accouterments that are not at all matched, and is followed by a fine elaboration of the various items. And the essay on the Austrian Lorenz musket is of high personal interest, since I'm one of the few guys I see using a Lorenz reproduction. It's good to see the Austrian imported musket getting more press from a very credible source like Craig Barry. All in all I've found the essays to be a treasure-trove of detailed information. I'd suggest every Reb reenactor buy and read the book.
The Alamo Rifles
Thank you for the kind words, Phil. Because of the interest in The Unfinished Fight, which surprised me in a good way, there is a 2nd volume in the finishing stages. It will probably be out late in 2013. Roughly the same length, also a mix of civilian and military essays. Finer points beaten to death, etc. And like the first volume, nothing in there about "who outflanked who at Kickapoo Crossroads."
Then that will be about it from me as far as essays on the topic of CS material culture, as the Supplier to the Confederacy: English Arms & Accoutrements is due out on Jan 28, and we (David Burt & I) are going to concentrate on continuing that series, ie: re-releasing the first two installments (S Isaac Campbell and Peter Tait) in one volume from another publisher, further research for a 2nd edition of English Arms & Accoutrements, etc. There was an article in the recent Winter 2012 (Vol 64 #4) Journal of the Company of Military Historians on "The Birmingham System of Manufacture" which is more or less a direct lift from the new English Arms & Accoutrements book. The MC&H article lends insight into what the rest of that book will be like. If you find it interesting, you will probably like the book a lot. If not then the research on the gun-makers, commercial Enfield long rifles used in the US Civil War, etc will be very tough to get through. It's heavy on the details of why, how, who, what, when and where.