Saturday, October 26, 2019

Booknotes: Lone Star Valor

New Arrival:
Lone Star Valor: Texans of the Blue & Gray at Gettysburg by Joe Owen (Gettysburg Pub, 2019).

In 2017, a collection of Antietam "official reports, diary entries, interviews, newspaper articles, and letters to families at home" written by members of Hood's Texas Brigade and co-edited by the trio of Joe Owen, Philip McBride, and Joe Allport, was published by Fonthill Media under the title Texans at Antietam: A Terrible Clash of Arms, September 16-17, 1862. A similar sort of project is Owen's Lone Star Valor: Texans of the Blue & Gray at Gettysburg.

From the description: "Thousands of soldiers who fought at the Battle of Gettysburg for both the Army of the Potomac and the Army of Northern Virginia settled in Texas after the Civil War. Throughout the days, weeks, and years after the battle, these soldiers captured their stories in diary entries, letters, interviews, and newspaper articles. From the first crossing of the Potomac River to the intense fighting on July 1, July 2, and ultimately at Pickett’s Charge on July 3, these Texans of the Blue and the Gray played a key role in the Gettysburg Campaign. This collection of soldiers' accounts written during and after the war provides a unique perspective from Texans in the ranks over the course of those historic days in the summer of 1863. Also included are the stories of civilians who bore witness to the tremendous battle and who settled in Texas after the Civil War. Collected for the first time in a single volume, this is essential reference for historians of the Lone Star State and Civil War researchers."

While recognizing the value of the collection overall, one magazine reviewer of the earlier Antietam book lamented the dearth of archival digging behind it. With only eight manuscript items (mostly letters) included in Lone Star Valor, this one also focuses primarily on the large body of available published letters and newspaper articles. Owen was also selective in other ways, using only one article from a Texas Brigade veteran in order to better highlight individuals who served in other Confederate regiments but moved to Texas after the war. Union accounts are fifteen in number. I couldn't find exactly how many items are included in the book in total, but it must run in the hundreds. Arranged alphabetically by writer name, the materials (which range in length from just a few sentences to several pages) are indexed by Owen but only sparsely footnoted. Photographs and other illustrations are additionally sprinkled throughout.

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