[The Fighting 10th: The History of the 10th Missouri Cavalry US by Len Eagleburger. (Bloomington, IN: Authorhouse, 2005). Pp. 636, $26.00, Hardcover, photos, rosters, appendices, ISBN 141403296X)]
The 10th Missouri Cavalry (Union) regiment is probably best known for its spearheading of the great cavalry charge at Mine Creek in Kansas and for its commander, Frederick Benteen of Little Bighorn infamy. Created from the consolidation of other units, the regiment served extensively in both the West and Trans-Mississippi theaters. According to the author, one of the difficulties in writing a history of this unit is that any prospective researcher has to work around the accidental wartime loss of the regimental records. Unfortunately, the effort here cannot be described as a success.
The Fighting 10th is strictly a top-down history of the regiment’s military service. The demographic analysis and social history elements found in most modern regimental histories are completely absent here. Aside from viewing the unit rosters, the reader can learn little of the backgrounds of the common soldiers and lower ranking officers. I could find no evidence that letters, diaries, or manuscript collections of any kind were consulted. The result is a narrative that traces the military history of the higher organizations (brigade, division, army) to which the 10th belonged at least as much as that of the unit itself.
The book’s text runs 190 pages and is highly problematic in both formatting and content. The writing is of a rough draft level of polish and is poorly edited for spelling, grammar, and sentence structure. Additionally, the more general background material is error-prone. The lack of footnotes, an index, and a formal bibliography (the one in the book is clearly incomplete, listing only five sources) is just as troubling. Unit rosters and appendices comprise the balance of the book’s 636 pages. Overall, The Fighting 10th contains very little to recommend it beyond the rosters, although readers with a very narrow interest in this particular regiment might seek to venture into its pages.