Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Booknotes: The 22nd Michigan Infantry and the Road to Chickamauga

New Arrival:
The 22nd Michigan Infantry and the Road to Chickamauga by John Cohassey
  (McFarland, 2019).

Accompanying the Vermont Brigade book discussed here yesterday was another Union unit history, this one a study of a Michigan regiment that fought out west with the Army of the Cumberland. John Cohassey's The 22nd Michigan Infantry and the Road to Chickamauga "explores the 22nd's day-to-day experiences in Kentucky, Tennessee and Georgia. The author describes the challenges faced by volunteer farm boys, shopkeepers, school teachers and lawyers as they faced death, disease and starvation on battlefields and in Confederate prisons."

Mustered into the Union Army in late August 1862, the 22nd was almost immediately sent to the aid of Cincinnati, which was assumed at the time to be under threat from Braxton Bragg's Confederate army in Kentucky. After the danger passed, the regiment was posted to garrison duty in the central part of the Bluegrass State before moving on to Tennessee and an extended behind-the-lines stint guarding Nashville and its vital railroad connections. In September 1863, the 22nd joined the Army of the Cumberland in its advance beyond Chattanooga and into North Georgia. Fighting in their first major battle of the war at Chickamauga, the Michiganders materially contributed to the success of General Thomas's famous rear guard action on the 20th. The regiment went on to fight in the Union victory at Chattanooga later that year and on through the 1864 Georgia Campaign. It then spent the balance of the war in various provost roles in Georgia and Tennessee before being mustered out at Nashville in 1865. All of this service history is recounted in the book.

At 160 pages with numerous illustrations (but, alas, no maps) sprinkled about, Cohassey's compact study looks like a fairly fast read. But that doesn't necessarily mean that it's light history, and the "select sources" list at the back boasts the kind of extensive source collection that's suggestive of a very serious research effort.

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