Thursday, October 04, 2007

That last post was my 100th - a small milestone. I do wish that it had been on a happier subject.

I finished chapter 5 of the 58th NCT book last night. The regiment has left Cumberland Gap and is on the way to Big Gap Creek.

When writing such a piece as a regimental history, you often come across things that just beg for more information. Sometimes, you are able to uncover what you need, and sometimes not. I mentioned this before, but I have a new example.

On Tuesday evening, I was transcribing a letter by Isaac Bailey, Company B. Bailey would go on to become Captain of Company B. This letter was written on October 2, 1862, from Cumberland Gap. I came across this sentence: "Tell Curtis that Palmer has not had me under arrest any more, But he has had all of the Commissioned officers under arrest." Earlier, I came across the resignation letter of Capt. Jacob Bowman, also of Company B. Bowman resigned on March 5, 1863, because of charges brought against him.

These two statements beg for more information. There is a story here, and maybe I'll get to tell it.

Some might say, well these two events are indicative of the conditions of the 58th NCT. That's true to some extent. They were unwilling volunteers or conscripts. Their personal freedoms, freedoms they had always exercised, had been replaced by a code of military discipline. Plus, for a colonel, they had an extremely intelligent, Northern-born commander.

That's not to say that almost all regiments did not have some of those same problems. I could pull numerous examples from my shelves of men saying the same things when they started to go to the war. And many histories agree that the part of the April 1862 Conscription Act that allowed men who reenlisted to reorganize their regiments with new officer elections was extremely damaging. This act replaced good men with a lot who valued discipline less.

Like I said, there is a story here and I hope I get to tell it. Anyone know if Kirby Smith had a judge advocate on staff? How about Braxton Bragg?

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