Monday, April 19, 2010

Regimental Histories

This morning I’m still pondering regimental histories, probably because of a post on the 81st Indiana on Dave Powell’s blog. It is a subject that I seem to spend a great deal of time pondering, probably because I’ve written two and would like to write a dozen more. A couple of questions: what is your favorite regimental history (US/CS), and why, or what makes it a good regimental history? I look forward to your comments.


Brett Schulte said...


Mine has to be Mother May You Never See the Sights I Have Seen, on the 57th Massachusetts, by Warren Wilkinson. It was recommended to me as the best when I first got into reading regimental histories, was the first I ever read, and not one of the dozens I've read since has surpassed it. I think the sheer number of men cut down over the Overland and Petersburg Campaigns until only a few dozen were left in mid-summer 1864 contributes, as does Wilkinson's writing style and genuine love for and interest in the subject he covered.

Lee White said...

So far for me its Pride of the Confederate Artillery (about the 5th Company Washington Artillery) by Nat Hughes. As to what I look for, I want to know who the men were, where they came from, what they did before, during and after the war. I see each regiment as an armed represenative of their community or town and each has its own unique story. Im looking forward to seeing your work on the 58th.

Michael C. Hardy said...

Thanks Brett and Lee – you both bring up regimentals that I’ve not read yet (so many books, so little time). I guess the first regimental I read was Pullen’s history of the 20th Maine. I’ve probably read 30 since then, and probably own about that many, mostly Confederate.

Thanks again for the comments.

Anonymous said...


I love regimentals!

If we're talking modern regimentals, I'm partial to Miller's book on the 20th Massachusetts Infantry, Bennett's work on the 140th NY Infantry, Wittenberg's book on the 6th PA Cavalry & Richard Brady Williams study of the Chicago Mercantile Battery. But I also like those nominated by Brett & Lee.

If we're talking the older regimentals penned by the soldiers, my favorites are Hard's book on the 8th Illinois Cavalry & Davenport's study of the 5th NY Infantry.

Like many, I anxiously await Brian Pohanka's 2-volume work on his beloved Zouaves.

See you next month!

Mike Peters

Chris Evans said...

Interesting post.

I second two of my favorite regimental histories, 'Mother, May You Never See the Sights I Have Seen: The Fifty-Seventh Massachusetts Veteran Volunteers in the Army of the Potomac, 1864-1865' by Warren Wilkinson and 'The Pride of the Confederate Artillery: The Washington Artillery in the Army of Tennessee' by Nathaniel Cheairs Hughes.

Those are just two fabulous histories that I think are are some of the best that I have ever read.

I also like 'My Brave Boys: To War with Colonel Cross and the Fighting Fifth' by Mike Pride and Mark Travis, 'More Terrible than Victory: North Carolina's Bloody Bethel Regiment, 1861-65' by Craig S. Chapman, and 'Covered with Glory: The 26th North Carolina Infantry at the Battle of Gettysburg' by Rod Gragg.


Michael C. Hardy said...

Chris – thanks for the post. I also like Gragg’s Covered with Glory. However, I am hesitant to call it a true regimental history. The book is a history of the 26th NCT at Gettysburg. Many other parts of their service kind of get glossed over. There is a similar book on the 15th Alabama at Gettysburg. I am going to try and pick this up and see how it compares.

Andy said...

In addition to Wilkinson's Mother May You Never.... My favorite recent regimental is John J Fox's 'Red Clay to Richmond: The Trail of the 35th Georgia'. The level of research, end notes, the maps and roster are great but what really sets this book apart is the work the author did to walk in actual footsteps of this regiment. The appendix also contains picture of a number of relics unearthed from one the regiments early war campsites.

Anonymous said...

While I agree that Pride of the Confederate Artillery is very good (I like all of Dr. Hughes' stuff) I think I would choose two regimentals: One is a period history, the 36th Illinois by Lyman and Bennett, done in the 1890s. Joe Reinhart's "History of the 6th Kentucky US" is very good, showing what can be done with a modern study.

I'm also partial to Kirk Jenkins' "the battle Rages Higher" (15th Kentucky US) and Mark Johnson's "That Body of Brave Men" about the US regulars in the west.

Dave Powell