Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Hunt: "COLONELS IN BLUE -- Michigan, Ohio and West Virginia: A Civil War Biographical Dictionary"

[Colonels in Blue--Michigan, Ohio and West Virginia: A Civil War Biographical Dictionary by Roger D. Hunt (McFarland ph. 800-253-2187, 2011). Softcover, 304 photos, bibliography, index. 228 Pages. ISBN:978-0-7864-6155-4 $39.95]

In 2008, a pair of significant contributions to the literature in the form of biographical reference works pertaining to Confederate colonels emerged with the publication of Bruce Allardice's Confederate Colonels: A Biographical Register (U. of Missouri Pr., 2008) and Kentuckians in Gray: Confederate Generals and Field Officers of the Bluegrass State (U. Pr. of Kentucky, 2008), the latter with co-author Lawrence L. Hewitt. For the Union side, author Roger D. Hunt has compiled and published photographic and biographical registers for colonels commanding regiments from New York, New England, and the Mid-Atlantic states. He's also created a volume for brevet brigadier generals. Moving out west, Hunt's newest series release is Colonels in Blue--Michigan, Ohio and West Virginia: A Civil War Biographical Dictionary.

Under the main Michigan, Ohio, and West Virginia headings are regiment and biographical sections. The former is comprised of a listing of the state's militia and volunteer regiments, accompanied by the name(s) of the colonel(s) that led it, along with appointment dates and fates (e.g. mustering out, promotion, wounds, death, etc.). The second section, the heart of the book, is the biographical register.  Each entry begins with a command and promotion summary for the officer, followed by date of birth & death, occupation(s), and burial site. As one might assume by the title, under the "Miscellaneous" heading is a grab bag of information and trivia spanning the subject's life.  Hunt was also able to include a photograph for most of the colonels.

It is clear from the book's bibliography and the reference list attached to each colonel entry, with their multitudes of manuscript sources, government records, newspapers, and publications of all types consulted, that Hunt has put a remarkable amount of effort into his research. The result is a must-have resource for those conducting serious research into the men that comprised the regimental leadership of the Union army. Colonels in Blue is highly recommended for individuals and libraries.


  1. This is the third publisher for this series. The first, Schiffer, put out a high quality book for a high price. The second, Stackpole, went in the other direction in both regards, though Hunt's research was still impeccable. I'll be interested to see this one, as McFarland products can be a little uneven. Price seems reasonable, though.

  2. It is curious the route he chose to go with in organizing his books. The officer's nativity to the state is not the concern but rather those colonels (wherever they hailed from) that led regiments from the state(s) under consideration. I wonder which option is more useful overall. It didn't sink in until I couldn't find my Ohio standby John A. McDowell [he led an Iowa regiment].

  3. I'm sure this will be a welcome addition, though I wish historians would look at the most neglected aspect aspect of Civil War soldiery, which is West Virginians in Gray. I put a list together on my blog of over 100 General, Field and Staff officers.

  4. Bob,
    Interesting compilation. Thanks for visiting.


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