Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Utah and the American Civil War

The Arthur H. Clark Company is one of the premier publishers of Western Americana, and they can always be counted on to publish some Civil War related books every once in a while. The Civil War in the Mountain West has received a bit more attention lately, most recently with The Civil War Years in Utah: The Kingdom of God and the Territory That Did Not Fight (Oklahoma, 2016) by John Gary Maxwell, and this summer Arthur H. Clark will release an edited documentary collection titled Utah and the American Civil War: The Written Record (August).

Edited by BYU history professor Kenneth L. Alford, "Utah and the American Civil War presents a wealth of primary sources pertaining to the territory’s participation in the Civil War—material that until now has mostly been scattered, incomplete, or difficult to locate. Organized and annotated for easy use, this rich mix of military orders, dispatches, letters, circulars, battle and skirmish reports, telegraph messages, command lists, and other correspondence shows how Utah’s wartime experience was shaped by a peculiar blend of geography, religion, and politics."

Listed at 864 pages, it's stuffed with material. Alford "opens the collection with a year-by-year summary of important events in Utah Territory during the war, with special attention paid to the army’s recall from Utah in 1861, the Lot Smith Utah Cavalry Company’s 107-day military service, the Union army’s return in 1862, and relations between the military and Mormons. Readers will find accounts of an 1861 attempt to court-martial a Virginia-born commander for treason, battle reports from the January 1863 Bear River Massacre, documents from the army’s high command authorizing Governor James Doty to enlist additional Utah troops in October 1864, and evidence of Colonel Patrick Edward Connor’s personal biases against Native Americans and Mormons. A glossary of nineteenth-century phrases, military terms, and abbreviations, along with a detailed timeline of key historical events, places the records in historical context." This sounds like a wonderful resource, and I can't wait to look through it.

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