Friday, November 26, 2010

Mesic: "COBB'S LEGION CAVALRY: A History and Roster of the Ninth Georgia Volunteers in the Civil War"

[Cobb's Legion Cavalry: A History and Roster of the Ninth Georgia Volunteers in the Civil War by Harriet Bey Mesic (McFarland, 2009). Hardcover, 24 maps, photos, appendices, notes, bibliography, index. 376 pp. ISBN 978-0-7864-3795-5. $59.95]

Raised by prominent Georgia lawyer and ardent secessionist Thomas R.R. Cobb in the summer of 1861, the infantry, cavalry, and artillery components of Cobb’s Georgia Legion were destined not to serve together as a single unit. The mounted battalion, later consolidated with other companies to form the 9th Georgia Cavalry, first fought in the 1862 Peninsula Campaign. From there, the Legion cavalry participated in some capacity in most of the major campaigns of the Army of Northern Virginia, ending its distinguished service in the Carolinas in 1865.

Mostly a straightforward narrative of military events, Harriet Bey Mesic’s unit history of Cobb’s Legion Cavalry runs roughly half the book’s length. While the text is annotated, there are some basic errors [two on the first page of chapter one alone – James Longstreet was not a Confederate army corps commander in 1861, and squadron/company are not interchangeable cavalry organization terms] that raise concerns about the author’s attention to detail. That said, the battle and campaign summaries of the legion’s wartime service are well organized for quick referral, and the military coverage is quite comprehensive. Many descriptions of raids and obscure actions occurring along the periphery of the main army clashes were included.

The bibliography is limited, but does include some manuscript material. A number of prominent secondary sources were absent. While somewhat crudely drawn, maps are plentiful, mostly depicting broad geographical areas of operation. There are tactical battle maps for the Brandy Station, East Cavalry Field (Gettysburg) and Trevilian Station battles.

The second half of Cobb’s Legion Cavalry is composed of a well researched and wonderfully detailed unit roster. Running almost 150 pages in length, each name entry (1,457 in total) is packed with far more information than that found in the typical Civil War roster study. Other appendices provide select biographical sketches, along with death, POW, deserter, and final surrender lists. While the narrative history is a useful summary, it is the roster section that will likely provide the book’s most enduring value to readers, historians, and genealogical researchers.

[This review originally appeared in Blue & Gray Magazine, XXVI #3, Pg. 32,41]

3 comments:

  1. Drew, Hope you had a great THanksgiving! I would love to know how McFarland stays in business publishing books with big price tags. Anybody figure out there business plan please let me know.

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  2. Thanks, John. I hope your holiday went well. I don't know if it still does, but the McF website used to remark that their primary clientele were libraries, not individuals. Thus, the disparity in price sensitivity.

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  3. Yes, but library acquisitions are off due to budget cuts. So, i really don't know how they do it.
    John

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