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Readers' and Reviewers' Comments
   UPDATED 12/01/02  
(I add readers' & reviewers' comments from time to time at the top of this page. Pre-publication reviews are shown thereafter. Read over them while you enjoy a wartime favorite song, "All Quiet Along the Potomac.")
- Steve Bounds, Curator, Mansfield State Historic Site, wrote the following note in late 2000:

       Besides writing a fascinating account of his ancestors, Mr. Mangham also outlines methods in which the reader can explore his own family history. I am truly impressed with the amount of accurate information regarding the often ignored Trans-Mississippi. Mr. Mangham's book is a "must read" for anyone interested in researching their Civil War ancestors and for anyone interested in the War, as every theatre is covered.

- Civil War Book Review," Summer 2001 (p. 39); Marc J. Storch wrote:

     The Civil War publishing field does not lack for works on battles, regiments, and personal histories, but Dana M. Mangham's "Oh, For a Touch of the Vanished Hand" is one book that explores the Civil War from the view of a genealogist first, historian second. Mangham traces 37 of his Confederate ancestors prior to, during, and after the conflict. He tells this story not only by relating their personal stories but by weaving their experiences into the war itself. In addition, the author provides a useful guide for others interested in doing the same type of research for their own ancestors.
     It is a bold task, and Mangham has left few stones unturned in order to meet his goal. In any search for data on individuals who are not famous, papers or letters pertaining to them are likely to be scarce. Indeed, only two of Mangham's ancestors left firsthand impressions of their wartime experiences for him to use. To counter this problem, the author consulted the usual historical sources and then went far deeper. He searched the compiled military service, census, and pension records, period newspaper accounts, letters of those who would have associated with an ancestor, postwar family reminiscences, and both Confederate and Federal unit histories. The sources are so well-blended that the reader seldom notices that multiple documents are required to pull together even the smallest part of the Mangham clan's story.
     By working at a personal level, the author was also able to find and use data that those working at a more abstract level would miss. One of the most striking examples of this technique at work concerns the question of why his ancestors fought. Having encountered the oft-repeated idea that the common southern soldier was not fighting for the preservation of slavery, Mangham found that indeed only nine of the 37 men personally owned any slaves. However, further research showed that 20 of them came from families that owned slaves, and six more had other family members who were involved with the "peculiar institution." Thus only two of 37 had no known connection to slavery. While not conclusive, this fact, along with other data the author encountered, commands the attention of the reader.
     As with any work, some parts of the book find their target better than others. This is not a small book, and does not lend itself to casual reading. It also suffers from the fact that there is no easy choice for organizing such a complex story. Presented on a timeline, the names and places would blend into an unrecognizable jumble, but separate the stories by person and the war would need to begin and end several times. Mangham realized this difficulty and took the latter course. It was the better choice, but it still makes along war even longer.
     An obvious labor of love, this book also enlightens, challenges, and provokes the reader. Because of its story about the common southern man's experiences during the war and its usefulness as a guide in genealogical research, "Oh For a Touch of the Vanished Hand" presents a rare view into a diverse family's experiences during the Civil War.

My thanks to Mr. Storch for his thoughtful review, which brings up some great points that I should have addressed explicitly in an Author's Note so that prospective readers could see the "method to my madness."
     * Specifically, I designed this book so that each section of a chapter--i.e., each Mangham soldier's experiences--can stand on its own. Although one may wish to read an entire family group's chapter in order to see what happened to its various members, there is no need to read the sections or chapters in sequence. Feel free to pick out specific units, types of units, theaters of war, battles, or campaigns, and then read the sections that pertain to that.
     * My apologies to all for the small print! It was 11-point font, but the eventual thickness of the book required the publisher to shoot the pages at 90% of actual size. Otherwise, the print would more nearly fill the page, and a reader would have to break the book's spine to read pages near the middle.
     * As Mr. Storch noted, this book was indeed a labor of love. The typical historical method is to assess the adequacy of source materials before undertaking a manuscript. In this case, I decided in advance to write up each man's story as best I could, consistent with historical accuracy and the standards of the historical discipline.
     * Many of these issues are addressed in another review in North & South Magazine, below. . . .

- " North & South Magazine," vol. 4, no. 6 (August 2001), p. 93; J. William Harris wrote:
     Dana Mangham, an army officer and history professor, has written a volume that crosses the boundaries between family history, genealogy, and military history. For thirty-seven descendants of brothers Solomon and Joseph Mangham (or Mangum), he has traced through available records [of] their lives before and during the war, and, in most detail, their Confederate military service.
     These Manghams were scattered from Georgia to Texas. A few were wealthy slaveholders, but most were small farmers (though the author emphasizes that almost all had a direct interest in the preservation of slavery). Some served briefly, others for years; some were with Lee or Bragg, others in home guard units. Five died while in service from wounds or disease, and several others were severely wounded.
     Mangham devotes a separate chapter to each family branch. In each chapter, separate sections document the service of one, two or three men and narrate their major military encounters. Because the Manghams' collective service cuts across so many areas, the result is in some ways almost a history of the Confederate military experience. However, few readers not named Mangham are likely to read the entire volume. The organization inevitable involves a good deal of overlapping and repetition, and only two men left descriptions of their experiences in their own words. Thus, while the author writes well, the resulting story of the war is both fragmented and somewhat impersonal.
     Still, Dana Mangham's achievement is substantial. He combines the skills of a historian and a genealogist, knows the historical literature well, and has done a prodigious amount of research. He has also included a short "how to" guide for others who want to research their Confederate ancestors. The book will be of interest to serious war buffs and to those with similar interests in their family histories, and it deserves a place in any library with a substantial genealogical collection.

-  Smoky Mountain Books recently published the following on-line review:  (NOTE: this link is now obsolete)

      Many of us have gotten wrapped up in the search for a Civil War ancestor, looking for the paths he walked, the people he met, the sights he saw. Some of us have done a pretty comprehensive search, enough to perhaps write a book about, if only we could find a publisher for a study of such narrow scope. But Dana Mangham the author of this colossal family history, has done almost every one of us one better. This is a mammoth book, eight hundred pages of not-very-big print, and it is a tremendous lesson in how much we can learn about our ancestors in the Civil War if only we are willing to dig through the dust mite infected archives of materials that surround us all.

      Dana Mangham is well qualified to research and tell such a tale. A history instructor at West Point, he comes to the task with a lifetime of training in things military and in the methods of an historian. What he has produced is not the story of one man in the army, but of an entire generation of his family who fought for the Confederacy~ for the most part from their native Georgia. He was lucky to find in his quest a vast body of research done by earlier generations, but as with all professionals with genuine skill, much of that good luck was homemade. As he says in his introduction, he seeks, with admirable success, to combine the disciplines of genealogy and history in ways that the strengths of each will compliment each other, and to a great degree he succeeds. The story begins with the marriage of John Mangham and Frances Bennett in Virginia in 1694 It carries to the Civil War, where it ties together the experiences of over two dozen regiments, as various members of the Mangham clan fight on fields that range from Gettysburg to Pleasant Hill. If you have ever wondered how much you might be able to discover about your own forebears of the nineteenth century, there is no better example than this book of how much one person can discover.

Please help spread the word by posting a review to my book on  Click on the link and navigate right there!

- A July 2002 review by Michael K. Smith, of Baton Rouge, appeared on & gave the book 5-stars! Mr. Smith is a top-1000 reviewer for Amazon. . . .

     Like many of his generation, Mangham was first drawn to the Civil War by the books and movies that appeared during the Centennial celebrations in the early 1960s. Family visits to sites like Stone Mountain and Peachtree Creek cemented his interest, as did the many CSA markers in the small country cemetery where his grandfather was buried. (The title of this book comes from the epitaph on his great-grandmother's headstone.) His family also encouraged an abiding interest in his own genealogy.
     After graduating from LSU, his career path led to the army, the eventual rank of Lieutenant-Colonel, and a tour as professor of history at the Military Academy at West Point -- and the confluence of these interests and traditions make him perhaps uniquely qualified to write this fascinating combination of military and family history. The author's grandfather, Henry Gordon Mangham, probably was named for General John B. Gordon, who rose from captain of volunteers to Lee's only non-West Point corps commander. Henry's own grandfather had served in a Georgia Sharpshooter battalion in the Army of Tennessee and two of his great-uncles had fought in the 13th Georgia Infantry, a unit which not only helped make Gen. Gordon's reputation but which also suffered the second-highest casualty rate of any regiment at Sharpsburg/Antietam. Both uncles, in fact, had been seriously wounded there.
     Many Mangham cousins also served in the War and at least five never returned home. However, the author goes on to discuss the experiences and activities of dozens of other units from seven Southern states and this fat volume will be of considerable interest to any serious Civil War historian or hobbyist. But that's not all! Nearly half the book presents a detailed and extremely well-documented history of the Mangum / Mangram / Mangham family beginning with the marriage of John Mangum to Frances Bennett in Isle of Wight County, Virginia about 1694, and following their migrations first to North Carolina and eventually to Georgia about 1790, with some branches of the family moving on to Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas. Some 500 Manghams and their offspring are brought together in a seven-generation Descendant Report, which includes cross-references to the main text, a very handy feature. Col. Mangham has also included a very good glossary to military terminology and a 34-page bibliography, as well as a brief instructional guide to Civil War research.

Thanks, Michael! Next time I'm in Baton Rouge, maybe we can compare notes!

     - Chris Hardin (Knoxville, Tenn.): LTC Mangham's book is by far one of the best I have read. He captures the pride and duty of the southern soldier in a way that I have not enjoyed until I read his book. He weaves a great story of his family in with historical fact that far exceeds such noteworthy authors as Ambrose and Shelby Foote. I would recommend this work to anyone interested in a soldiers' story of the Civil War.

     - Charles & Gayla Threatt (Odessa, Texas):  We are proud of your work. Impressive.

     - Beth Parsley (Gonzales, Texas): I can't tell you what was stirred in me as I searched your website this evening. I cried and had goosebumps. (No, I'm not coming down with the flu.) I truly look forward to reading about my "family." (Beth descends from Joe Marion Mangum, one of the original troopers in Terry's Texas Rangers, who enlisted with his cousin John R. Mangham from Gonzales County in 1861. These men are featured in Chapter VIII. Click here for John's grave, or
here for Joe's grave and his photograph.)

Beth followed up with this note after receiving her book: Thank you so much for writing this book! To use some down home talk, I'm in "hog heaven" (whatever that means?) right now. I'd called my brother, Leon, this AM and alerted him he might get the book today. Then, at 1 PM, he returned my call, and asked, "what are you doing, as if I didn't know?"  This is so wonderful to finally have some of the loose ends attached. I do believe that Charles A. Mangham you write extensively about is the minister, C. A. Mangham, who performed my grandparents' wedding (Joe D. and Etta A. Trafton Mangum) in 1897. Joe D. was Joseph Marion Mangum's son and J.M. was Charles' first cousin as I read in your book. (Thanks, Beth, for another insight into our ancestors' relationships: Charles A. Mangham, formerly a corporal in the 18th Alabama, obviously retained or re-established contacts with his Texas cousins after the war; maybe that's why he moved there in the early 1870s, about 20 years after they did. The linkage between his father, Thomas H. Mangham, and William R. Mangum, all apparently of the Josiah Thomas Mangum family, just got another little "boost." Thanks to Andrea Scioneaux, I've recently obtained a photo of Charles Mangham's grave in San Antonio.)

     - Norman Carrington Schipke: I enjoyed your book. It was professionally written. Since Arthur Mangum was my Great Great...Grandfather the book has a special meaning. Thank you for writing it. I look forward to your next project. (Norman comes from the Mangum-Carrington connections that are so central to several chapters of my book, and indeed to the entire subsequent network of Mangum-Mangham genealogy. At his suggestion, I'll prepare a table showing each Confederate soldier featured in my book, his unit, and the battles & campaigns in which he participated.)

      - Brig. Gen. Ronald S. Mangum, Yongsan, Korea: I have looked at your book - what a wonderful reference! I only wish that our family lines crossed earlier. The reference that you gave me for my gg-father Archibald in Alabama was great. Never knew much about him, now I know about his wound, widow and death. I hope that we have a chance to meet. (General Mangum descends from Pvt. Archibald P. Mangum, Co D, 56th GA Vol Inf, who was injured or wounded at Vicksburg and Jonesboro. At Vicksburg, he became partially blind and deaf supporting the artillery, and he was wounded by artillery fire at Jonesboro, GA. The current-day General Mangum helped Lynn Parham prepare some of his earliest work on the old "Mangum Family Bulletin," which was a crucial resource that allowed my book to take the shape it eventually did!)
   General Mangum and Colonel Mangham enjoyed meeting each other and talking genealogy in  Taegu, Korea, during November, 2001. Thanks for taking the time, General Mangum, and for your decades-long support of Mangum/Mangham/Mangrum genealogy!

      - Steve Mangham, McCalla, Alabama: WAY TO GO CUZ....SOMEONE HAS REALLY BEEN BURNING THE MIDNIGHT.... (Steve descends from two Confederate veterans, Pvt. James M. D. Mangham, 61st Alabama, and his son, Wiley Paul Mangham. [To see their graves, click here.] Steve, his father Bobby, and my family met & had a great dinner in January 2001 at Jeff and Donna Mangham's home in Alabaster, Alabama. None of us cousins had ever met before, although Jeff's father and my father, J. Roger Mangham, were first cousins and good friends back in Georgia--it was a memorable experience for me, Nan, and our girls! Jeff's Uncle Stan, another cousin & good friend of my Dad's, is heard from below. . . .)

      -  William H. Bragg (author, Joe Brown's Army: The Georgia State Line, 1862-1865):
   Despite the continued outpouring of Civil War books, few offerings attain much distinctiveness, and many have been justly described as "rehashes of rehashes."
       A welcome exception, Dana M. Mangham's "Oh, For a Touch of the Vanished Hand" provides an absorbing combination of family history and unit history (with excellent advice on conducting the research for both).  Mangham's book puts his examination of lineage in the service of a broader design: an explication of the Confederate side of the Civil War through the experiences of one Southern family, some three dozen of whose men served in units from seven of the seceded states.  This is an exhaustively researched and lucidly written study, an exemplary achievement on all levels.

    - Stan M. Mangham, Birmingham, Alabama: I have really enjoyed reading your book and learning so much about our ancestors. I have always enjoyed reading about the Civil War, and this book has put it in a "personal" perspective. Thanks for all your thorough research and hard work. (Stan is a first cousin of my father's--they were boyhood friends back in Georgia. Like Dad and I, he descends from John Willis Mangham, 2nd Georgia Battalion Sharpshooters. Nan and I and the girls had a great time visiting his nephew James's family in Alabaster, Ala., last January. We had a great home-cooked meal with them, and also other Mangham relatives, including Steve Mangham & his father Bobby, descendants of James M. D. Mangham, 61st Alabama.)
   - Dale Mangrum, Springfield, Missouri: It is fascinating to read and I know I will dwell on each chapter for many nights to come as I read through the book. I have always been a Civil War buff anyway and now it just fascinates me to see my namesakes noted in the very battles I have read so much about before. (Dale descends from James M. Mangham, 61st Alabama, and has a great story about how his grandfather's employer insisted on listing him as "Mangrum," resulting in his branch of the family using that name ever since! Click here to see James's grave.)

    - June Marie Barker Clenney, Windermere, Florida: I am so proud of the book that you have written about our Mangham family. . . (June also descends from James M. D. Mangham, 61st Alabama)

    - Geoffrey H. Mangham, Southport, England: Absolutely amazing. Never thought that the name was carried with honour in the Civil War by so many as well. (Maybe someday we'll figure out the precise connection between the Manghams who remained in England and John Mangham/Mangum, the immigrant ancestor of most of us in the USA. For more about this project, visit Lynn Parham's website at )

   - Stuart Mangham, Perth, Western Australia: Referred by my family. Very interesting reading and insight. (I look forward to Stuart's comments after the book reaches him in the "Outback," and hope that he & I can get together there someday!)
   - Elizabeth Mangham-Haugen, San Jacinto, California: My brother Graham sent this to our Dad and he sent it to me. Mangham seems to be such an unusual name but we sure seem to have made a mark in History. . . (And how, Elizabeth! Thanks for visiting. Hope you enjoy the book.)

   - Graham Mangham, Rossendale, Lancashire, England: I never realised the name had so much history. (Thanks to our English ancestors for getting around a bit back in the 17th century!)

   - Rod Brittingham, Easton, Maryland: I started reading your book. I like it!!!! I started getting wrapped around all of the names. Then I started substituting any Mangham name with "Billybob," and after that point I was paying attention to the story and not the relationships. Anyway I love the book and especially the way you put the stories and the letters home together. . . . (Rod is not related to the Mangham family, as you may be able to tell. He and I worked together in ROTC at Bowie State University, and he was and is a great friend who can always be counted on for the lighter side! Wish him luck, everybody; newly retired from the Maryland National Guard, he leaves in January for his new job advising the Minstry of Defense in Macedonia.)
    - Felix M. S. Mangham, Colorado Springs, Colorado: I am still studying this massive work and have learned more of my family history than I had ever hoped possible.  My Grand father's home burned to the ground in the early years of the twentieth century and all of the records of my family were lost.  I shall be forever grateful for this document. (Felix is a descendant of James A. Mangham, a Confederate soldier from Mobile, Alabama, and had a great story about meeting a fellow USAF transport pilot named Mangham in Japan in the 1950s. Can anyone help us "re-unite" them? Felix has always wished he remembered that cousin's first name! Click here to see James's grave in Mobile.)

    -  Garold L. Cole (author of Civil War Eyewitnesses: An Annotated Bibliography of Books and Articles):
     From all appearances it is a magnificent work. I have read perhaps 5,000 personal narratives and have found only a handful that attempt--or are willing to spend the time--to do what Col. Mangham has done. My biggest gripe with published accounts is that either historians focus on military aspects or genealogists dwell on family relationships, economic status, and subsequent generations. Mangham has done both and told readers how the family was a microcosm of one part of Civil War (and beyond) society. The notations, bibliography and index are painstaking. I am sure that if this work comes to the attention of Civil War scholars and gets reviewed as favorably as it should, it will be recognized as one of a kind. . . .

- Bobby C. Smith, Upson County, Georgia, Historical Society:
I am on my second reading. . .and find that the information on the different Confederate units is so detailed that you can almost follow the units on a day to day basis. I feel that this book is a must for anyone who had ancestors who served in any of the units mentioned. (Bobby was one of my earliest advisors on this project, kindly making his expertise in Upson County history and genealogy available to a stranger, and feeding me a great meal at the club, too! His ancestor, Jim White, served in the 46th Georgia.)

 Pre-publication reviews:
1.  "Dana Mangham's "Oh, For a Touch of the Vanished Hand": Discovering a Southern Family and the Civil War is a thoroughly researched, well documented and gracefully written Confederate regimental study. Dana has attempted what all authors strive to do but few manage to achieve: produce a Civil War history grounded in fresh research, wrapped in lively writing, and useful to students of the conflict as well as genealogy buffs. He has admirably succeeded on all fronts."

     - Theodore P. Savas, Editor, Civil War Regiments: A Journal of the American Civil War

2. "Meticulously researched and abundantly documented, this unique work paints a vivid picture of thirty-seven Southern kinsmen. . . .As well as being a well-executed genealogy of the Mangham family, this is a painstakingly researched Civil War history. . . that will be of great interest not only to Mangham descendants, but to any Civil War or Southern historian."

     - Jeanell Strickland, Genealogy Librarian, East Baton Rouge Parish Library

3. "Dana Mangham has written a wonderfully imaginative and touching book about thirty-seven of his ancestors who wore gray during the Civil War. Their personal stories remind us of the human trauma involved in that terrible conflict and demonstrate that we can never separate ourselves completely from our past."

     - Colonel Robert A. Doughty, Professor and Head, Dept. of History, US Military Academy (West Point)

4. "This is an excellent, effective and efficient. . .format. . . .Not a Mangham will want to be without it. The whole pattern really works. I imagine state historical societies will want copies as well as all southern libraries. I like most the sense that I was learning something about southern culture at the time. I appreciated the many fine human interest items. . . ."
     - Rev. E. Robert Geehan, formerly Assoc. Professor of History, US Military Academy, West Point

5. ". . .prodigious research down a variety of avenues. . ..I have every reason to believe Mangham amassed everything he could find in producing such a comprehensive story."
     - Dr. James I. Robertson, Jr., Alumni Distinguished Professor, Dept. of History, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

6. ". . .a good job of pulling together from a variety of sources the information on the Manghams and of presenting it in an understandable manner. The book should be of interest to people who like reading about the lives of 'common' soldiers."
      - Dr. Arthur Bergeron, Jr. , Park Historian, Pamplin Historical Park, Petersburg, Va.

     7. "I am on my second reading. . .and find that the information on the different Confederate units is so detailed that you can almost follow the units on a day to day basis. I feel that this book is a must for anyone who had ancestors who served in any of the units mentioned."

     - Bobby C. Smith, Upson County, Georgia, Historical Society