Monday, April 27, 2009
Pinnell, Banasik (ed.): "Serving With Honor: The Diary of Captain Eathan Allen Pinnell of the Eighth Missouri Infantry (Confederate)"
[Serving With Honor: The Diary of Captain Eathan Allen Pinnell of the Eighth Missouri Infantry (Confederate) edited by Michael Banasik (The Camp Pope Bookshop, 1999). Softcover, 7 maps, illustrations, notes, appendices, bibliography, index. 448 pages. ISBN: 0-9628936-9-2 $19.95]
(This book is Vol. III of Camp Pope's Unwritten Chapters of the Civil War West of the River series.)
Eathan Allen Pinnell served in the Missouri State Guard before joining the Confederate Army as captain of Co. D, 8th Missouri Infantry. While his 1862-1865 term of service with the 8th was certainly an active one traversing much of the state of Arkansas, Pinnell experienced significant combat only three times, at Prairie Grove, Pleasant Hill, and Jenkins' Ferry.
Capt. Pinnell's diary is distinctive in several ways. For one, he didn't seem to miss a single day, even if only to record a couple words. He also was meticulous in recording places and distances traveled, marking his work as an important and useful record of the movements of the 8th Missouri. While the Missourian's combat descriptions weren't especially detailed, he did devote much of his diary to military business and critical observations about the conduct of the war. Unlike many other Civil War diarists, he had no aversion to "talking shop". His writing and actions described therein display a singular unconcern with promotion and being popular with the privates. Inferred instead is a devotion to providing for the men of Co. D and readying them for combat.
The value of the diary is significantly enhanced by the work of series editor Michael Banasik. His footnotes cover a broad range of subjects, from biographical sketches and historical background to factual corrections. A few maps (geographical overviews and battle drawings from other sources) accompany the text.
Like all the books in the Unwritten Chapters of the Civil War West of the River series, this one is full of extras. The first appendix is an organizational summary and detailed 150 page roster of the 8th Missouri. This is followed by a series of short biographies, a casualty list for Parsons's brigade at Prairie Grove, an OB for Churchill's Corps, and a few other small items. A bibliography and good index complete the volume.
The work of a sharp mind and dutiful diarist, Serving With Honor is an exceptionally rich and informative personal account of the Civil War in Arkansas. With its rare coverage of events in NE Arkansas prior to the Prairie Grove Campaign and 1864 operations in southern Arkansas while the rest of the region focused on the Price Raid, Pinnell's writing bridges gaps in the available literature. Highly recommended.