Port Hudson: The Most Significant Battlefield Photographs of the Civil War by Lawrence Lee Hewitt has been named Book of the Year by Civil War Books and Authors, an influential blog run by Andrew J. Wagenhoffer that reviews non-fiction books on the American Civil War.
In 1978, Lawrence Lee Hewitt became the first manager of the Port Hudson State Historic Site, location of the longest siege of the Civil War. There, he began collecting photographs related to the battle. Port Hudson, published in 2021 by the University of Tennessee Press, brings together four decades of Hewitt’s research. The photographs collected in Port Hudson include many “firsts” — the first-ever photograph of soldiers engaged in battle, first exterior shots at night, and first “composition print,” as well as the only known photograph of a Confederate army surrendering.
The Civil War Books and Authors review notes that, “The answer to the question of why so many Port Hudson photographs involves many factors, including the operation being the war’s longest siege and the battlefield’s relatively short distance from New Orleans affording both access to photographers and abundant time for them to perform their laborious work. Hewitt organizes the book chronologically, with sections devoted to the biographies and activities of the six Port Hudson photographers that left their rich collections to posterity.”
Both the author and the CWBA blog express praise for UT Press. “Obviously, a tome containing all of the hundreds of Port Hudson Campaign photos collected by Hewitt could not be affordably printed and priced,” the CWBA reviewer notes. “Hewitt graciously credits the team at University of Tennessee Press for successfully negotiating the process and providing him the opportunity to make available a still pretty hefty 173 figures. . . . A sturdy hardcover . . . printed on heavy, photo-friendly paper stock, the book gets a handsome presentation worthy of its significance.”
Lawrence Lee Hewitt is a former professor of history at Southeastern Louisiana University. In addition to Port Hudson: The Most Significant Battlefield Photographs of the Civil War, he is the author of Port Hudson, Confederate Bastion on the Mississippi and coeditor of four volumes of essays under the collective title of Confederate Generals in the Western Theater and three volumes of essays under the collective title of Confederate Generals in the Trans-Mississippi.
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