Saturday, August 24, 2013

Field: "LINCOLN'S 90-DAY VOLUNTEERS 1861: From Fort Sumter to First Bull Run"

[Lincoln's 90-Day Volunteers 1861: From Fort Sumter to First Bull Run by Ron Field (Osprey Publishing, 2013). Softcover, photos, color plates, bibliography, index. 48 pp. ISBN:978-1-78096-918-3 $17.95]

Ron Field's Lincoln's 90-Day Volunteers 1861 is Volume 489 of Osprey's Man-At-Arms series. Slim at 48 total pages, the book is tightly focused on the uniforms, hat wear, and accoutrements associated with the soldiers of these short term regiments. Service history is limited to a brief introduction, an event timeline, and snippets here and there.

The study is divided into sections by state [New York – Massachusetts – Pennsylvania – Ohio – Rhode Island – Connecticut – Vermont – New Hampshire – Maine – Delaware – New Jersey – Wisconsin – Iowa – Minnesota – Illinois – Indiana – Michigan] and the District of Columbia. Unit designations are covered, as well as detailed descriptions of the type, color, and appearance of hats, uniforms, and assorted paraphernalia of war. These come from a variety of sources, the more common ones being newspaper articles, soldier letters, and official state documents. Procurement is also within the book's limited purview. Producing companies and the location(s) of their factories are named and shamefully widespread issues of contractor fraud and "shoddy" item quality addressed. Many of these first-issue uniforms and footwear fell apart within days of active use.

As with all Osprey titles, illustrations are a prime focus and strength. Numerous rarely seen photographs of 90-Day soldiers accompany the text, with detailed captions. Eight color plates offer fine visual representations of the study's meticulously described outfits. Additional commentaries on the appearances of the 27 fully uniformed figures represented in these plates are located at the back of the book.

The audience range for Field's Lincoln's 90-Day Volunteers 1861 is fairly specialized -- from artists, wargamers, and figurine painters to authors and researchers of the early war period seeking a comprehensive catalog of the appearances of these soldiers -- but all should find the volume quite useful to own.

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