The American Civil War for a Russian audience

VIGO ROUSSILLON, Francois-Paul, trans. Stankevich and Vitmer

Voennye sily Severo-Amerikanskikh Shtatov. Voina za nerazdelnost Soiuza (1861 - 1865)

[The Military Forces of the North American States. War for the Integrity of the Union 1861-1865]

Publication: Skt. Peterburg, [Published with the support of the Military-Scientific Committee of the General Staff], 1868.

VIGO ROUSSILLON, Francois-Paul, trans. Stankevich and Vitmer, Voennye sily Severo-Amerikanskikh Shtatov. Voina za nerazdelnost Soiuza (1861 – 1865)

Very rare first book in Russian dealing with the American Civil War, illustrated with large folding maps. Apparently no copy in the USA of this first edition, only one outside Russia (in Rome).

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The first book in Russian dealing with the American Civil War, illustrated with large folding maps.

Very rare: we could trace only one example in public institutions outside Russia, in Rome’s National Central Library. We could find a copy in the Russian State Library’s catalogue, but not in the National Library.

There was keen interest shown in Russia in the American Civil War, not least because from the reign of Tsar Nicholas I onwards, Russia had increasingly looked towards America, both as an ally, and as a model for diplomatic and military might. This took on extra significance after Russia’s defeat in the Crimean War, when the government hoped that the U.S. might provide a counter-balance to European military hegemony, particularly that of Britain and France. Significantly, Russia was the only major European power to offer vocal support to the Union. Indeed, the Russian Navy sent two fleets to US waters in 1861-2 in order to safeguard them in the event of war with the British and French, a move seen in America as a show of support for the Union.

Published at a time when the Russian army was undergoing major military reforms, this translation of a detailed treatise was intended to provide the country’s general staff with extensive political and military information on a hugely significant recent conflict. Composed at the behest of the French War Ministry, the Puissance militaire des Etats-Unis d’Amerique d’apres la Guerre de Secession, 1861-1865 (Paris, J. Dumaine, 1866) was based on notes compiled by Lieutenant-colonel Francois de Chanal during an official mission to America. It covers a period from Lincoln’s election in 1861 to victory of Union forces in 1865.

Vigo-Roussillon was the Professor of Administration and Military law at the French General Staff. According to the translators Stankevich and Vitmer, who lament the lack of available information on the conflict, this was the first book published in Russia on the American Civil War. It contains numerous additional footnotes not in the original French edition, added to provide clarification for Russian readers.


K.G.O. (owner’s initials to foot of spine); Ilia Iv. Giulev, Kazaplek (bookdealer stamp to upper endpaper); Stepan Ivanovich Litov, ‘Kiev since 1830’ (bookdealer’s ink stamp to tile).

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Physical Description

Octavo. 402 pp. plus contents and errata page, with two large fold-out maps of theatre of conflict, one large fold-out map of Sherman’s march to Georgia in 1864, one map showing designs for American hospitals, made from wooden barracks.


Contemporary black sheep spine, with brown cloth boards impressed with decorative pattern at corners, marbled edges.


Binding rubbed; very occasional light spotting to pages, a bit stronger to last map.

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