Thursday, October 17, 2019

Booknotes: Yank and Rebel Rangers

New Arrival:
Yank and Rebel Rangers: Special Operations in the American Civil War by Robert W. Black (Pen & Sword, 2019).

Yank and Rebel Rangers discusses Civil War individuals and units who conducted what we might today call "special operations." From the description: "Both the Union and the Confederacy employed small forces of bold and highly motivated soldiers for special operations behind enemy lines. Skilled in infiltration—sometimes disguising themselves as rural mail carriers—these warriors deftly scouted deep into enemy territory, captured important personnel, disrupted lines of communication and logistics, and sowed confusion and fear. Often wearing the uniform of the enemy, they faced execution as spies if captured. Despite these risks, and in part because of them, these warriors fought and died as American rangers."

There are thirteen Confederate chapters and ten Union chapters. Each chapter appears to be a standalone essay, primarily descriptive in nature. Just to name a few prominent examples from each side, Confederate coverage includes overviews of the operations of units like the Moccasin Rangers, Iron Scouts, and White's Comanches while the actions of the Blazer Scouts, Jessie Scouts, and Loudoun Rangers are represented in the Union section. With the bibliography consisting of a selection of book-length secondary works, unit histories, and a handful of newspapers (all supplemented by the O.R.), it's probably fair to characterize the study in the main as a synthesis of the published literature.

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