Prufrock's Wargaming Blog

Prufrock's Wargaming Blog

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Bruce Catton

I was browsing the other day looking to see if they had the new Gettysburg Solitaire book from Worthington Games. It turns out they didn't, but somehow or other (as one does) I ended up going down an internet rabbit hole. This time it led to Bruce Catton. I'd owned one of his books and loved it (I forget which one - A Stillness at Appomattox, perhaps?) but had lent it to someone and not got it back.

Since that first reading I've always checked secondhand book shops just in case they have any Catton on the shelves but I've not had any luck so far. I imagine it would be a bit different if you were shopping in the US, however!

Anyway, by roundabout means, I came across the website of a secondhand book store in Wellington called Haven Books which had a copy of the Army of the Potomac trilogy. I ordered it and it arrived today, well-thumbed, yellowed, and obviously much-read. Just how a book should be.

But my search also turned up another gem - a C-Span video of a lecture on Bruce Catton given at Gettysburg by David Blight.  I won't spoil it with an inadequate introduction, but if you have an hour and fifteen minutes to spare, you might find it worth your time.   

To close, the Gettysburg movie, Catton, Foote, and Burns have no doubt been the catalysts for many a Civil War obsession. Do readers have any other particular books, videos or lectures that got them interested in the ACW? 


  1. My interest in the ACW is mostly of a naval stripe, so the artwork of Tom Freeman is quite inspirational to me.

    However, back in the day I played a small 6mm ACW set-up, and this book fed that project:

    The original was published in the 1970's I believe. One day I will get back to the land side of ACW

  2. Paperback in the late 1980’s called “Landscape Turned Red” by Stephen W Sears. Had a huge impact on me and was quite a page turner for me at the time. That’s what started me collecting ACW books on battles and Campaigns.

    Unlike you though, book collection is also a hobby and I only collect like new condition hardbacks with like new dust covers. I have a local book shop that places dust cover protectors on them. Once a month I vacuum clean my 350 plus library of books to keep away dust mites.

    This is probably why I don’t paint as much as I want🤣

  3. I would imagine that there is a copy of Catton's trilogy in almost every library in the US. I have a paperback copy of it myself.

  4. I read the Catton trilogy in my mid teens. I'd get more out of it now.

    I have 2 ACW Armies so it had some good effect.

    For sheer inspiration Tom Kenneally's Confederates is a great novel. It's also a great unreturned novel in my case.

  5. I still have Bruce Catton's trilogy on my ACW bookshelf. Other books that got me interested in the ACW were the various uniform books with images of the wide variety of militia uniforms at the start of the war.

  6. My interest started with the Blanford Uniforms of the ACW book plus an Arms and Armour press book Battles of the American Civil War. I also picked up a second hand copy of a Bruce Catton one volume history of the war (title long forgotten as the book was lost in a house move). That was back in the 1970's since then Foote's trilogy and Paddy Griffith's Battle in the Civil War have rekindled my interest.

  7. Thanks for your comments, all! Good to read :)


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