Monday, October 18, 2010

"Croxton's Raid"

Of the handful of Wilson's Raid studies, none are truly satisfying, with James Pickett Jones's almost 30 year old Yankee Blitzkrieg: Wilson's Raid through Alabama and Georgia still the best. Rex Miller's Croxton's Raid isn't a great book either, but it details a significant but lesser known aspect of the operation, the ancillary raid conducted by a detached force commanded by Brigadier General John T. Croxton.

Published in paperback by The Old Army Press in 1979, Miller's study traces the independent movements and destructive activities of Croxton's brigade, which separated from Wilson's main body of three divisions early on in the raid at Elyton, Alabama on March 30, 1865 and headed to Tuscaloosa, fighting briefly at Trion before crossing the Black Warrior River and approaching the city from the north. There, Croxton burned the university [to the joy of Auburn fans everywhere] and destroyed other public properties and military targets. Next, the raiders headed southwest, seeking to cross the Tombigbee but turning back upon finding the river unfordable and hearing that Wilson was already in possession of Selma. Returning to Tuscaloosa, Croxton then adopted a winding eastward course across the state, crossing the Coosa River and passing through Talladega before finally crossing the border and rejoining Wilson at Macon, Georgia on May 1. Along the way, detachments were sent out to destroy iron works and other industrial sites, and several very small skirmishes were fought.

About half the book (94 pages) covers the raid in narrative form, the rest comprising unit histories as well as officer lists and biographies. The volume is well illustrated and numerous maps allow the reader to easily follow the path of the raiders. The text is properly documented, and, while the bibliography is a bit thin by today's standards, a good range of sources (published and unpublished) were used. Students of Wilson's Raid will find the volume well worth a look.

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