Gary Gallagher Says Farewell to the Civil War America Series

Update: I’ve been informed that a number of forthcoming titles are being shepherded through the publication process by Gallagher. My post title probably implies a bit more finality than is warranted. I should note that a forthcoming title in the Military Campaigns of the Civil War series that is co-edited by Gallagher and Caroline Janney will include an essay of mine on the Crater. That volume will be released in the Fall.

This past week I received a number of advanced copies from the University of North Carolina Press. It’s the first batch of books, where I’ve noticed that Gary Gallagher’s name no longer appears as a series editor. As many of you know Aaron Sheehan-Dean, Peter Carmichael, and Caroline Janney are taking over editing responsibilities for the press’s Civil War America series.

I think it’s worth acknowledging just how important this series has been to our understanding of the Civil War era. The series began unofficially in 1987 with the release of Harry Pfanz’s Gettysburg: The Second Day. The series was launched officially in 1993 with Tom Cutrer’s biography of Ben McCulloch. The total number of books in the series under Gallagher’s editorship is 113. I’ve been reading books in this series since the mid-1990s and since roughly 2005 the press has been kind enough to send me review copies of all Civil War-related titles. Looking around my private library I can find Civil War America titles in every section from slavery to antebellum politics to battlefield studies, and Northern and Southern home fronts. I’ve read practically all of them.

While I certainly do not wish to re-visit the controversy surrounding Gallagher’s co-authored essay in The Journal of the Civil War Era about the state of military history, it is worth noting that the series never snubbed its nose at certain interpretive approaches. Gallagher welcomed and encouraged all types of studies. It’s a series that includes strict military histories by Earl J. Hess and Harry Pfanz to studies of children by James Marten and Northern writers by Lynn Cullen Sizer. Military history sits comfortably alongside political, cultural, social, memory, and racial studies.

Authors include seasoned veterans, but what I think is truly impressive is the number of historians who published their first book in Civil War America. No doubt, some of the folks who benefited in this regard are Gallagher’s own students. Is there a Civil War historian who has had more influence on the direction of the field than Gallagher, both through his own scholarship as well as his students?

It will be interesting to see what direction Sheehan-Dean, Carmichael, and Janney take the series. I have no doubt they will do a good job, but I suspect they will agree that all three will need to pitch in to meet the high standards set by Gary Gallagher for close to thirty years.

5 comments… add one
  • Kevin Levin Feb 22, 2015 @ 6:55

    As for awards:

    Titles in the series have won more than 65 book prizes and awards, including the Avery O. Craven Award of the Organization of American Historians (2), Lincoln Prize (6 won or shared), James A. Rawley Prize of the Southern Historical Association, Fletcher Pratt Award, Jefferson Davis Prize (5), Douglas Southall Freeman Award (7), Wiley-Silver Award (best first Civil War book) (3), and Choice Outstanding Academic Titles. The History Book Club also selected a very large number of the titles.

  • Michael Day Feb 21, 2015 @ 17:46

    I had the great fortune of taking a course on the Civil War taught by Dr. Gallagher at Penn State, and it was the best course I ever attended. He was so open to taking students on trips to battlefields as well as welcoming them to his home. Unbelievable respect for his work and his genuine care for the subject and his students.

  • Mark Simpson-Vos Feb 21, 2015 @ 15:14

    Thanks for the post, Kevin. It’s true that the transitions in editorship for Civil War America are underway. But Gary Gallagher remains involved in several projects in process for the series. We are grateful for the opportunity to see this transition unfold over a period of time. There will be future opportunities to say more about this, I am sure, but I want to be sure your readers have a fuller sense of things.

    It is true that the first books developed by our terrific trio of new editors, Peter Carmichael, Carrie Janney, and Aaron Sheehan-Dean, are making their way into the world now. I realize I am biased, but the future looks bright as I view it from my editor’s desk.

    • Kevin Levin Feb 21, 2015 @ 15:19

      Thanks for the update, Mark. I am honored to be included in Gallagher’s co-edited volume that covers the campaigns from Cold Harbor to the Crater, which will be released in the Fall as part of the Military Campaigns of the Civil War Series.

Now that you've read the post, share your thoughts.