Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Booknotes: Hoffman's Army

New Arrival:
Hoffman's Army: The 31st Virginia Infantry, CSA 1861-1865
by David W. Wooddell (Author/CreateSpace, 2016).

The 31st Virginia was raised from citizens of nine western Virginia counties. The first four chapters of Hoffman's Army cover the unit's organization, leadership, and involvement in operations west of the Alleghenies. The rest of the volume recounts the regiment's service with the Army of Northern Virginia, through its ultimate surrender in 1865. I skimmed through part of the first chapter and found it to be an informative account of the early struggle to organize a Confederate defense of Virginia's remote western reaches. Interestingly, the author credits the early oil industry boom in the region for drawing already scarce manpower away from the ranks at the most inopportune moment. Anyway, the research looks pretty solid and Wooddell's numerous personally drawn original maps are helpful (as an example, there's a good one for the October 1861 Battle of Greenbrier River). I haven't looked at where the H.E. Howard series volume for the 31st ranks among that very hit and miss collection, but Wooddell's book more than likely represents a significant upgrade.

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