Friday, March 6, 2020

Booknotes: Atlanta's Fighting Forty-Second

New Arrival:
Atlanta's Fighting Forty-Second: Joseph Johnston's "Old Guard" by W. Clifford Roberts Jr. & Frank E. Clark (Mercer UP, 2020).

From the description: "The Forty-Second Georgia Volunteer Infantry was organized in the spring of 1862 at Camp McDonald near Big Shanty. The regiment was made up of companies from DeKalb, Fulton, Gwinnett, Milton, Newton, and Walton counties. Fighting in the Western Theater, they were major participants at Cumberland Gap, Champion's Hill, Vicksburg, Resaca, Atlanta, Nashville, and Bentonville. These Georgians proved to be capable fighters and were, on four occasions, assigned to cover the retreat of the Army of Tennessee." As depicted on the cover art of W. Clifford Roberts and Frank Clark's new regimental history Atlanta's Fighting Forty-Second: Joseph Johnston's "Old Guard", the charge of the 42nd east of the city and north of the Georgia Railroad during the July 22, 1864 Battle of Atlanta is featured on the Atlanta Cyclorama.

Roberts and Clark's "detailed narrative highlights first person accounts drawn from soldier's letters, diaries, and field reports, as well as from Federal soldiers directly across the trench lines. Excerpts from the letters and diaries of Colonel Lovick P. Thomas and his wife Jennie, stand out in this story for their honesty, devotion, and perseverance in trying times."

More from the description: "This story continues past the war and describes how these veterans rebuilt their homes, farms, and communities. Many of the former officers became important civic leaders in Atlanta, with five mayors of Atlanta having direct ties to the Forty-Second Georgia." As was the case with many other units that participated in high-profile battlefield events, the regiment's role in the fighting around the Troup Hurt House would be disputed by rivals. "Controversy would erupt in the 1890s between the Forty-Second Survivor's Association and the survivors of Manigault's South Carolina Brigade, as to which unit captured the famous DeGress Battery during the Battle of Atlanta."

The bibliography's breadth and depth of sources suggests a wide-ranging research effort went into the project. The book is supplemented with numerous photographs and maps. The detailed roster, which runs 150 pages and was prepared by the co-authors along with Joe Bailey, contains information on 1,355 individuals. The appendix section consists of [1] the muster roll of a Madison, GA prison guard detachment detailed from the regiment; [2] the Vicksburg parole list (641 soldiers); [3] a list of those present at final surrender (Greensboro, NC on May 1, 1865); [4] a 1864 casualty report; and finally [5] a list of men from the 42nd who died in federal POW camps.

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