Sunday, June 22, 2008

Wickman: ""We Are Coming Father Abra'am": The History of the 9th Vermont Volunteer Infantry, 1862-1865"

[ "We Are Coming Father Abra'am": The History of the 9th Vermont Volunteer Infantry, 1862-1865 by Donald H. Wickman (Schroeder Publications, 2005). Cloth, 20 maps, photos, drawings, footnotes, appendices & roster, bibliography, index. Pages main/total: 458/526 ISBN: 978-1889246239* $45 ]

The 9th Vermont is not the first unit that comes to mind when contemplating famous Civil War regiments hailing from the state. However, Donald Wickman's story of the 9th's rather unusual wartime journey makes for a refreshing change from the typical eastern theater regimental history dominated by combat service in the Army of the Potomac.

The regiment was created out of the second great wave of northern volunteers. It's first foray into the South landed it in the Shendandoah, where it was unfortunate enough to be surrendered soon after at Harper's Ferry. The paroled men were then sent to Camp Douglas, exchanged, and detailed there as camp guards. Traveling back east after six months in Chicago, the regiment found itself assigned to the Suffolk, Virginia garrison, raiding and defending the works against Longstreet's corps in the spring of 1863. After a brief stop at Yorktown, the Vermonters were sent to North Carolina. A transfer back to Virginia in 1864 led to the 9th's involvement in the battles of Chaffin's Bluff and Fair Oaks.

Most modern regimental histories devote substantial attention to both social and military facets of a unit's service, but the depth of content from both spheres is often unsatisfactory; one aspect is typically emphasized more than the other. This is not the case with Wickman's well rounded study, which delivers well researched and richly detailed pictures of camp life, political perspectives, home front concerns, and campaign experiences. Wickman's history also brings to light several little known military encounters, such as the February 1864 Battle of Newport Barracks (NC).

The material quality and general presentation of "We Are Coming..." is worthy of mention. The book uses heavy grade paper, bound in blue cloth. It's also heavily illustrated, with the inclusion of dozens of page-sized photographs and 20 maps. However, some of the maps, especially the reduced sized archival reproductions, are a bit difficult to read, yet most complement the text in a meaningful manner. More original maps are usually advisable, but these worked okay for the most part. My main complaint is with the copyediting (too many typos).

Such flaws aside, I would recommend Donald Wickman's study overall as a well researched and elaborately written history of the 9th Vermont. Those readers (like me) with a general curiosity directed at little-known campaigns and engagements tucked away in obscure corners of Civil War theaters will also find this book of interest.

* - There is also a "Special Leather-Bound Limited Edition" (150 copies) priced at $60.00 available.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Also from Schroeder Publishing - Battle of Shepherdstown study [reviewed here].

No comments:

Post a Comment

Blogger ID not required, but if you choose not to create one please sign your post with your name (no promotional information, please). Otherwise, your comment and/or link may be deleted.