Civil War Adventure: Book 2
Distributed By: Dover Publications, Inc.
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
In 2011, writer Chuck Dixon and illustrator Gary Kwapisz created a graphic novel named Civil War Adventure: Real History: Stories of the War that Divided America. Published by History Graphic Press, the graphic novel presented illustrated stories based on actual events that took place during the American Civil War. Now, in 2016, this series is being republished by Dover Publications, Inc., and the latest edition, Civil War Adventure: Book 2, features a new story.
I’m a history junkie – I like to learn about our past and am particularly focused on the Civil War, a war that divided households and families and changed America forever. When I heard about this republication of Civil War Adventure, I was floored that I had never actually heard of the original version. I had already missed Book 1, but there was no way I wasn’t going to get my hands on Book 2.
The first story in the graphic novel is actually the promised new tale. In Donnelley’s Gun, Union Sergeant Liam Donnelley finds himself on the Plum Run Line, charged with helping to prevent the Confederate advance toward Gettysburg. His orders are to fire only on advancing troops, but the Sergeant has a special relationship with his cannon, even naming it Molly. And he was not about to allow any Confederate artillery to fire upon his special girl…even if that means he has to defend her himself.
Next up is Tempered Blood, a story about two young men who become friends during their time with the Confederate Army. Ty Campbell and his friend Seth find themselves scouting through the winter of the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia under Stonewall Jackson, searching for enemy invaders. They not only find the invaders they were seeking, but they discover something about themselves as they engage in battle. This is followed by The Gray Ghost, a tale in which US Brigadier General George Armstrong Custer and his Wolverines try to outsmart the elusive Confederate Lieutenant Colonel John Singleton Mosby without much success.
Burning Vengeance is a tale of the darker side of war – the lootings, rape and murder of innocents. However, in this tale, the guilty members of the Army of the Mississippi get their comeuppance in a most unusual way. In Will the Black Man Fight?, we learn about the feelings some of the Union Army leaders had towards using black troops. Though some of the officers believed that they wouldn’t, many felt that they would fight just as earnestly as any white troops. As General Grant’s supply depots are attacked by the Confederates along the Big River, both sides learn just what the black troops are capable of.
Sharpshooters Duel is based on a letter written by John Gardener Perry which discusses a strange dueling event between members of the Confederate Army and Union Army along the line in Petersburg, Virginia. Then there are excerpts from Confederate Major General George Pickett’s diary, a story about a Confederate Army nurse and a short tale about the importance of a good cup of coffee to a Confederate soldier.
What I loved about this graphic novel is that it was written in the style of the comics I used to buy as a kid. There were these comics back in the day (I’m dating myself here) that sold for about a quarter regaling adventures in the Wild West, in outer space, in The Twilight Zone and more. Many of these comics were in black and white and featured intros in big bold black lettering, cuing the reader on events prior to this story or just as a general introduction to what the story is about. Civil War Adventure is a graphic novel created much in this vein. The stories are quite enjoyable and the art work, all black and white, is terrific.
I also loved that the graphic novel doesn’t just contain various illustrated tales. It’s chock full of information about the Civil War, including a map of the United States during the Civil War, a timeline of the war which also points out just when each and every story in the graphic novel takes place and a great deal of information about things like amputations, types of mortars used during the war, how the victor of many a battle ended up the loser when it came to burying the dead, the meaning of various terms and slang and more.
Over all, I found the Civil War Adventure: Book Two to be an excellent read – both entertaining and enlightening. I would recommend it to any fan of the Civil War, but would also go as far as recommending it to schools as a fun way to get students interested in the history of the United States. I can’t wait to see what Book 3 contains!