Civil War

Published on October 16th, 2014 | by Newt Rayburn


Civil War Historian James McPherson Signs New Book, Gives Lecture at Square Books

Oxford, Miss. (TLV) – Renowned Civil War Historian James M. McPherson visited Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi on Tuesday, October 15, 2014, to sign copies of his new book, Embattled Rebel: Jefferson Davis As Commander In Chief (Penguin). Embattled-Rebel-cover-0337sm-583

In 1989, McPherson’s book Battle Cry of Freedom won a Pulitzer Prize and he has been awarded many other accolades. His work with the Civil War Trust has preserved important areas of American Civil War History. James McPherson is considered one of the foremost Civil War Historians of our time. 

Square Books’ event was attended by about 40 people, including locals, residents, and even a few Alabamians, who traveled far to meet the author. The audience listened attentively while the historian gave a lecture entitled “The President and the General Who Would Not Fight.”

This title could certainly apply to Union President Abraham Lincoln and General George McClellan, however, McPherson’s speech was actually about Confederate President Jefferson Davis and General Joseph E. Johnston.

McPherson gave a brief, but highly interesting, account of the tumultuous, adversarial relationship between Davis and Johnston, plus a history of their disagreements on engagements of battle, including Richmond in 1861, the Peninsula Campaign in 1862, Vicksburg and Jackson in 1863, and Atlanta in 1864, where the Confederate President finally retired General Johnston after years of retreating from Lincoln’s Army.

A Q&A session followed James McPherson’s lecture, and many in attendance had very good queries for the historian. Topics included Napoleonic tactics, resources, various Generals of both armies, slavery, and the arming of slaves and freedmen.

Square Books owner Richard Howorth eventually cut off the Q&A, after many minutes of back and forth interrogating. As Howorth noted, “This could go on all night.”

McPherson’s newest book, Embattled Rebel, is available now at Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi.

In his latest offering, McPherson aims to give Jefferson “Davis his due as a military leader and as the president of an aspiring Confederate nation,” according to his publisher. The Local Voice Ligature










The Local Voice Publisher Newt Rayburn with Civil War Historian James M. McPherson at Off Square Books, October 15, 2014. Photograph by Rebecca Long.

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About the Author

Newt Rayburn founded THE LOCAL VOICE in March of 2006. Previously, Newt was Editor of PROFANE EXISTENCE in Minneapolis, and Art Director for Ole Miss' LIVING BLUES magazine. Newt won a National Magazine Award in 1999 for his SOUTHERN MUSIC ISSUE with THE OXFORD AMERICAN. A seventh-generation Lafayette County, Mississippian, Newt Rayburn's alter ego—Neuter Cooter—lead the Mississippi band THE COOTERS to Rocknoll Glory across the USA from 1993-2018. Newt is a family man who also is a publisher, photographer, writer, musician, landlord, and Civil War enthusiast.

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