Sunday, March 15, 2009

Parrish: "Wiregrass To Appomattox: The Untold Story of the 50th Georgia Infantry Regiment, CSA"

[Wiregrass To Appomattox: The Untold Story of the 50th Georgia Infantry Regiment, CSA by James W. Parrish (Angle Valley Press, 2008). Hardcover, 28 maps, photos, notes, appendices, roster, bibliography, index. Pages main/total: 287/420. ISBN: 978-0-9711950-7-3 $39.95]

Like many Georgia infantry regiments raised in the spring of 1862, the 50th spent a brief period on the Atlantic seaboard before being sent to Lee's army in Virginia. Initially assigned to Thomas F. Drayton's brigade of Longstreet's Corps, the Georgians later fought in most of the Army of Northern Virginia's battles, including 2nd Bull Run, Fox's Gap, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, the East Tennessee Campaign, the Overland Campaign, Cedar Creek, and Sailor's Creek. 1,400 served in all, but, by the time of the Appomattox surrender, only a handful of stalwarts [31!] remained to receive their paroles.

James W. Parrish's Wiregrass To Appomattox is an impressive product of a decade of exhaustive research on the part of the author. The results of his manuscript findings are sprinkled throughout his text, often in the form of full reproductions of letters and other primary accounts. In many works, this practice fails to engage the reader (turning it into a simple source compilation), but Parrish avoids the pitfall with his own strong narrative, providing more than sufficient background and context. It's also great to learn (from the Acknowledgments section) that the author submitted relevant portions of his manuscript for review by a large number of expert readers. In keeping with the work's military focus, a detailed demographic analysis of the rank and file is absent.

In terms of illustrations, author and publisher went far beyond the norm. Over 100 photographs greet the reader, either as extensively captioned CDVs or modern images of the various battlefield locations fought over or traversed by the 50th Georgia. Twenty-eight in all, the maps are relatively spare in terms of terrain detail, but they tend to highlight well the position(s) of the regiment on each battlefield. This service is not often provided to the reader of regimental histories, and is much appreciated here.

An array of appendices supplementing the main text. This includes a moderately detailed regimental roster. Casualty breakdowns by company are present here, as well as an Appomattox parole list, and flag discussion. Finally, grave site enthusiasts will appreciate the extensive photo gallery of headstones with text commentary.

An obvious labor of love by a descendant of two men who served in regiment, Wiregrass To Appomattox is an impressively researched, detail oriented, and comprehensive military history of the 50th Georgia's distinguished Civil War service. Highly recommended.

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Last year, I reviewed another Angle Valley Press title, Southerners at Rest: Confederate Dead at Hollywood Cemetery, and back in 2006 I interviewed author and AVP publisher John Fox [part 1, part 2] about his award-winning regimental history of the 35th Georgia, Red Clay to Richmond.


  1. Drew,

    Interesting timing on this post! Fred Ray has an interview with author Jim Parrish up at TOCWOC:

    1. The only problem I have with the book is my 2nd Great Grandfather John Rewis of company C He said he died in winchester hospital on may 10, 1863. The confederate death certificate I have says he died in general hospital #1 in Richmond Virginia on may 10, 1863. And it is signed by Dr. Charles B. Gibson attending Physician. The battle of chancellorsville had been only a few days berfore this and the 50th GA recieved heavy casualties at salem church on may 3rd. It makes more sence to send a wounded soldier to richmond by train than to send them all the way across the state. The information I have on my relative is accurate.

    2. I loved the book, the SCV and the UDC, both said my gg grandpa Archibald C Bass, died as a P.O.W. at Point Lookout MD. He was released and in 1865 married and moved to Florida. He had to get 2 fellow soldiers of the 50th GA. To verify him, for the Florida C.S. Pension. So glad this book had the truth. Thanks
      B. Bass


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