The first book in this series seemed like a more straight-forward history of the Army of the Potomac, especially its formation and early movements. Perhaps this book takes on a much different tack, or more possibly the history just got a little weirder, because this book is much more in the vein of the weirdness of the stories being told here.
Highlights from this part of the series:
~~How bad at his job, in general, Ambrose Burnside was as a general. But also he was very good at supplying his troops with quality food. This seems like a perk more than an important feature, but a huge number of soldiers became incapacitated through poor nutrition, including a high instance of scurvy. So while he wasn’t as good at battle tactics (he seems to have been bad) these other elements of his skills were greatly missed when he was gone.
~~Indiana had a dictator?! Maybe this is more common knowledge, but the governor of Indiana faced in-state resistance to continuation of the war and among other things this led to the creation of the KKK as a kind of resistance movement (how much resisting they did seems low) and so he was propped up by the federal government in order to keep him in power. One of the many questions that the North faced in the war was how to nationalize the army since so many of the soldiers had joined through state formations. Soldiers were often resistant to signing up through the Federal government automatically because by serving their term, then rejoining, they were eligible for bonus pay. Which, you know, seems reasonable.
Another of the things that often gets missed in Civil War histories, especially because of how much they focus on the actual battles so much is the way in which regional differences has a huge impact on the different armies we are dealing with here. This series continues to help spell out some of those big differences. An early story about Pennsylvania’s role in the embarrassingly disastrously Fredericksburg campaign really illustrates this.