Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Positive Trend (Hopefully) in Regimentals

Most Civil War regimental histories (both classic and modern) have an abysmal record in the 'useful map' category. If a map is included at all, it is usually just a theater-wide one intended for general orientation. This issue aside, too many modern regimentals are also just glorified roster lists, with some general social and campaign information tossed in.

A couple recent publications have thankfully reversed this regrettable trend. Red Clay to Richmond: Trail Of The 35th Georgia Infantry Regiment, CSA (by John J. Fox) and Richard J. Miller's Harvard's Civil War: The History of the Twentieth Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry both include large numbers of tactical maps that place the subject regiment in the thick of the battle, allowing the reader to follow the action with a reasonably detailed knowledge of the area's terrain. In many cases, surrounding regiments are also indentified and placed on the maps, providing both context and a ready visual aid.

With these two books, military and social subject matter are given their full measure of importance. Readers interested in either or both will not feel neglected. Both publishers, Angle Valley Press and University Press of New England, should be commended for their roles in bringing such deeply researched, comprehensive, and wonderfully presented regimentals to the public.

5 comments:

  1. I am the author of Harvard's Civil War, and wish to thank the blogger for his kind comments. I must add an acknowledgement--that my thinking about maps as well as that of my publisher (UPNE) was substantially influenced by the input of our mapmaker, Blake Magner. Magner's matching of the text with known infantry positions saved me from several horrific errors. I mention this not only out of gratitude but also to draw attention to a simple truth--creating effective Civil War battle narratives must be a collaboration between both authors and mapmakers.

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  2. Thank you for visiting and taking the time to comment. It is great to see the mapmaker have an active role in the process. You make a great point on that score, and it is something few explicitly acknowledge. Good luck. I hope your book is a commercial success as well.

    Drew

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  3. Drew,

    I'm in the process of wrapping up my new regimental history of the 6th Pennsylvania Cavalry, aka Rush's Lancers, and the plan is to include approximately 30 maps and nearly 100 illustrations in the book. It will be a large and expensive book, but I hope people will think it's worth it.

    Eric

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  4. Eric,
    Great, and congratulations. I don't know how you found the time to do two books at the same time (this one and the Monroe's Xroads)! I wish you the best in finding a publisher for this one that shares your vision of what a proper regimental history should be...I know you mentioned a couple options before.

    Drew

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  5. Drew,

    I've been working on this Rush's Lancers thing off and on for the better part of ten years. It's all done but the roster, which will be the final piece. Monroe's has been done for a year and a half, working its way through the editing/publishing process. I'm actually working on my bio of Ulric Dahlgren at the moment.

    Eric

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