Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Booknotes: Wade Hampton's Iron Scouts

New Arrival:
Wade Hampton's Iron Scouts: Confederate Special Forces by D. Michael Thomas (Arcadia Pub & The Hist Press, 2018).

John S. Mosby's behind the lines exploits are legendary, but another small group of Confederate irregular scouts also earned a notorious reputation. "Serving from late 1862 to the war's end, Wade Hampton's Scouts were a key component of the comprehensive intelligence network designed by Generals Robert E. Lee, J.E.B. Stuart and Wade Hampton. The Scouts were stationed behind enemy lines on a permanent basis and provided critical military intelligence to their generals. They became proficient in "unconventional" warfare and emerged unscathed in so many close-combat actions that their foes grudgingly dubbed them Hampton's "Iron Scouts.""

Most widely known for their prominent roles in the famous Beefsteak Raid and in the Battle of Monroe's Crossroads, the unit's full story is told for the first time in D. Michael Thomas's Wade Hampton's Iron Scouts. Though documents surrounding the unit's origins are scarce, according to the author the Iron Scouts were a Lee-Stuart brainchild that was assigned to Wade Hampton to create, with most of the initial contingent of picked men coming from the 2nd South Carolina Cavalry (with many different units eventually contributing members). 

Formed in late 1862, just 72 men served in the ranks of the Iron Scouts over the 2+ years of its existence. In addition to an organization and service history narrative, the book also includes a roster with quite a bit of biographical detail for each trooper gathered from a variety of sources.

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