By Dennis Adler
Any serious student of the American Civil War, studies the causes of the war, its battles, tactics, strategies as well as the lives of the men who fought it, from the private to the general; from civilian government officials to those left behind on the home front. Any understanding of who the combatants were and why they fought must also be accompanied by an understanding of how they fought the war and the weapons they used.
Dennis Adler, author of thirty-six books on historic firearms and collectible automobiles, and an avid collector of American West and Civil War firearms, has authored a thick, coffee table tome, on the guns used during the war by both the Union and Confederate soldiers appropriately titled, “Guns of the Civil War.”
The book contains three hundred color and one hundred fifty black and white photographs. The weapons are elegantly photographed, if that can be appropriately said of instruments of death and destruction, often resting on neatly laid out uniforms and battle flags, in their cases, or simply against light or dark backdrops. Occasionally Civil War artworks and period illustrations, are used along with pictures of the soldiers (who may or may not have been the guns’ former owners) to set the guns in their proper context.
All the well known gun manufacturers of the Civil War era are represented: Colt, Henry, Manhattan, Savage, E. Remington & Sons, Sharps, Rogers & Spencer, and Smith &Wesson, as well as many of their rivals and contemporaries.
Mr. Adler traces the development of 19th century handguns and rifles, through the evolution of loose powder cap-and-ball revolvers to, repeating rifles and everything in between. He also covers the development of the self-contained metallic cartridge.
“The Guns of the Civil War” is well written in an easily read style, and with chapter titles such as: A Nation on the Verge of Conflict and the Guns at Hand; Handguns of the Union: Arming a Nation at War with Itself; Longarms of the U. S. Military; Confederate Arms; A Litany of Foreign Arms; and Modern Reproductions and Replicas, Mr. Adler covers his topic thoroughly.
ISBN 978-0760339718, Zenith Press, © 2011, Hardcover, 11.5 x 8.9 x 1.5 inches, 352 pages, 300 Color & 150 Black & White Photographs, Illustrations, Bibliography & Index. $40.00