McFarland Publishers is set to release John F. Schmutz’s The Battle of the Crater: A Complete History in May. At that price it better be a complete history of the battle plus the rest of human history. I’ve never heard of Schmutz before. Apparently he is a corporate attorney and Civil War enthusiast who lives in San Antonio. Good for him. My guess is he saw Cold Mountain and decided to write a book about the battle. A quick look at the table of contents suggest that this is a straight-forward military history that probably will not go much further than Cavanaugh and Marvel’s 1989 study (H.E. Howard Series) or the recent publication of The Horrid Pit by Alan Axelrod, which I reviewed for the Journal of Southern History. In other words, we are likely to see little or no analysis of the role race played in this battle.
My advice, wait for the publication of Richard Slotkin’s No Quarter: The Battle of the Crater, 1864, which is slated for release this summer from Random House. I’ve been looking forward to the publication of this book for some time. Also, keep your eye out for a future Crater study by Earl Hess.
p.s. Please don’t ask me about my Crater and historical memory manuscript. It’s coming along.