Saturday, November 8, 2014

A Civil War History of the New Mexico Volunteers and Militia

It would be difficult to overestimate the value of historian Jerry Thompson's research and publications to the study of the Civil War in the desert Southwest. With books like Mexican Texans in the Union Army, Vaqueros in Blue and Gray and Tejanos in Gray, he's also demonstrated a special interest in the Hispanic soldiers of both sides. With this background, I couldn't be happier that he's tackling a unit history project that I've wished for for a long time, A Civil War History of the New Mexico Volunteers and Militia (UNM Pr, Spring 2015). It's a massive book with a price to match so I hope the press is willing to send me a review copy.

From the description:
"The Civil War in New Mexico began in 1861 with the Confederate invasion and occupation of the Mesilla Valley. At the same time, small villages and towns in New Mexico Territory faced raids from Navajos and Apaches. In response the commander of the Department of New Mexico Colonel Edward Canby and Governor Henry Connelly recruited what became the First and Second New Mexico Volunteer Infantry. In this book leading Civil War historian Jerry Thompson tells their story for the first time, along with the history of a third regiment of Mounted Infantry and several companies in a fourth regiment.

Thompson's focus is on the Confederate invasion of 1861-1862 and its effects, especially the bloody Battle of Valverde. The emphasis is on how the volunteer companies were raised; who led them; how they were organized, armed, and equipped; what they endured off the battlefield; how they adapted to military life; and their interactions with New Mexico citizens and various hostile Indian groups, including raiding by deserters and outlaws. Thompson draws on service records and numerous other archival sources that few earlier scholars have seen. His thorough accounting will be a gold mine for historians and genealogists, especially the appendix, which lists the names of all volunteers and militia men."

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