Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Booknotes: Confederate Sharpshooter Major William E. Simmons

New Arrival:
Confederate Sharpshooter Major William E. Simmons: Through the War with the 16th Georgia Infantry and 3rd Battalion Georgia Sharpshooters by Joseph P. Byrd IV (Mercer Univ Pr, 2016).

There's been a recent spike in interest in the mid to late war development of specialized sharpshooter battalions within the Army of Northern Virginia. Byrd's book is a detailed military biography of Georgia's Major William E. Simmons. "Three years after graduating from Emory College, Simmons joined the first company in his home county and received his commission. He was later promoted to Captain in the elite 3rd Battalion Georgia Sharpshooters of Wofford's Brigade. In 1864, he became acting commander of the brigade's sharpshooter battalion. The book traces his family heritage and his footsteps from childhood to Emory College, through many challenging war encounters, his capture and imprisonment at Fort Delaware, and a lifetime of service to his state and community that lasted until the 1930s."

Chapters dealing with Simmons's early life and post-war activities are present but the bulk of the book focuses on the major's Civil War experiences during the Peninsula Campaign, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Knoxville, and the 1864 fighting in Virginia before his capture in the Shenandoah. Appendices contain Simmons documents (including his prison journal), an obituary, statistical information and a Third Battalion roster. Looks like a great resource.

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