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Forums => Book Reviews => Topic started by: unicornforge on March 14, 2011, 11:58:53 AM
Here is a copy of an article I wrote for the March 2011 newsletter of the Blacksmith Guild of Central Maryland.
The purpose of the book ?Civil War Blacksmithing? by the author David Einhorn
My book titled ?Civil War Blacksmithing? is a result of blacksmiths and living historians expressing the need for a single book covering the skills, equipment and other information pertaining to blacksmiths serving the U.S. armies during the mid-1800s, and to fulfill the increasing volume of requests for information on the subject. It is my hope that my book will encourage more people to try their hand at blacksmithing, and to improve the quality of information and presentations at living history events. I feel that the book will also be of interest to history buffs, U.S. Civil War enthusiasts, and blacksmiths in general.
Finding information on the subject was a challenge spanning many years, and before the advent of the Internet, gathering information involved a lot of letter writing, long distance phone calls, and a great deal of driving and talking. This involved accumulating little bits of information and weeding through the material to separate out what was accurate and helpful. For example, to gather information on constructing wooden wheels a useful tidbit was acquired by spending the afternoon talking to a retired wheelwright, and a day was spent acquiring tips from a wheelwright after assuring him that the larger size of wheels I intended to make were not in competition with his business. Sometimes a bit of information such as a method of angling oak pegs to help pull fellows into alignment was great, while other commonly used techniques such as installing hot tires on wooden wheels would result in a wheel that lacked structural integrity.
The Blacksmith Guild of Central Maryland [BGCM] along with other east-coast blacksmithing groups supports a number of museums with historical blacksmith shops. The time period for most of those museums within easy driving distance for BGCM members tends to focus on the 1850s to 1880s time period, with Williamsburg being the main exception. With Gettysburg and other battlefield parks also nearby with their living history events mainly in the 1860s, the end result for presentations of blacksmithing both at museums and other sites tend to be oriented to the mid-1800s time period. While it was not my deliberate intent to focus my interests on the mid-1800s, that time period seems to be what those of us in this area have often found ourselves presenting to the public when participating in historically oriented demonstrations.
Individuals presenting information to the public at living history museums and events have the need for a wide range of information, some of which like pattern-welding (also referred to as damascus) may not be directly part of a mid-1800s smith?s real-life experience but are frequent topics of conversations with the public at events and also of interest to the smiths themselves. A brief introduction to blacksmithing, step-by-step photographs, cut-lists, and instructions on making reenactor?s camping ironwork, as well as brief step-by-step instructional introduction to knifemaking and pattern-welded-knives help give a jump start to someone expanding their activities into blacksmithing and/or living history events. The book also provides in one place all the steps of building a U.S. Army wooden cannon wheel, and is information that can be applied to smaller wheels. The wheel construction section is illustrated with numerous photographs, and explains the calculations for the measurements used in constructing a 57? cannon wheel. At the February meeting a volunteer at a Virginia museum described his desire to use the information provided in the book to help bring the wheelwright shop at their museum back to life.
The book also includes information on the history and construction of blacksmithing equipment used during that time period as well as a lot of other information that a blacksmith might need. Examples of other useful information include mid-1800s paint, army formulas for flux, weight of iron, evaluation of junk-yard metals, heat treating temperatures, etc, pretty much everything that I wish I would have found in a single book on blacksmithing.
My book titled ?Civil War Blacksmithing? is available either directly from myself, or online at the www.Amazon.com bookstore. The "look-inside" feature of the Amazon.com website enables a person to look inside at the detailed table of contents and a few pages. A display copy of the book will be available for examination periodically at guild meetings, and signed copies of the book will be available at the meetings for purchase.
? Title: Civil War Blacksmithing
? Author: David Einhorn
? Paperback: 188 pages
? Published: (December 24, 2010)
? Language: English
? ISBN-10: 1456364812
? ISBN-13: 978-1456364816