Friday, December 16, 2016

Booknotes: Independence or Annihilation

New Arrival:
Independence or Annihilation: Campaigns of the 60th Virginia Infantry Regiment
by William L. Caynor Sr. (Civil War Collectibles, 2016).

The title "Independence or Annihilation" refers to the motto of the 60th Virginia, which was formed in western Virginia in 1861 and became part of the Wise Legion. Before the publication of William Caynor's book, the only reasonably complete 60th Va unit study was John L. Scott's 1997 contribution to the H.E. Howard series of Virginia regimental roster histories.

The 60th fought in the Kanawha Valley in 1861 and in the Peninsula and 2nd Bull Run campaigns of 1862 before returning to the mountains of western (soon to be West) Virginia. The regiment participated in the Battle of Cloyd's Mountain in 1864 and subsequently joined Jubal Early's army in the Shenandoah, where it battled Union forces in a long string of engagements there. The 60th's last major fight was at Waynesboro in March 1865.

In the book, the introductory chapters and the regimental organization and service history narrative together run around 250 pages, much of the last written in a format akin to a daily unit diary. Photos and illustrations are abundantly sprinkled throughout the volume. Presented after the unit history are numerous tables and appendix discussions on a great variety of related topics. The author visited a number of archives during his research, but what really stands out in the bibliography is the exceptional number of newspaper resources that Caynor examined.

Caynor's 2,011-man roster, which includes officers & staff and takes up roughly 300 of the book's 735 total pages, contains much in the way of service record details. The author also discovered 113 additional soldiers absent from Scott's 1997 roster. The roster is indexed, as well.

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