Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Booknotes: Behind the Rifle

New Arrival:
Behind the Rifle: Women Soldiers in Civil War Mississippi by Shelby Harriel (Univ Pr of MS, 2022).

This is a paperback reissue of a title first published in hardcover format in 2019.

Billed as "the first study with a regional focus on the role women soldiers played in the Civil War," Shelby Harriel's Behind the Rifle is "a groundbreaking study that discusses women soldiers with a connection to Mississippi—either those who hailed from the Magnolia State or those from elsewhere who fought in Mississippi battles. Readers will learn who they were, why they chose to fight at a time when military service for women was banned, and the horrors they experienced. Included are two maps and over twenty period photographs of locations relative to the stories of these female fighters along with images of some of the women themselves."

The first three chapters explore the hardships and motivations of these female fighters disguised as men while also documenting the sufferings of those who were killed or wounded in action. Following chapters recount their roles in a series of well-known campaigns and battles fought in Mississippi, including Iuka/Corinth, the Mississippi Central Campaign, Chickasaw Bayou, the 1863 Vicksburg campaign and siege, Brice's Crossroads, and Tupelo. An addendum briefly explores "myths and mysteries" associated with the topic.

More from the description: "The product of over ten years of research, this work provides new details of formerly recorded female fighters, debunks some cases, and introduces over twenty previously undocumented ones. Among these are women soldiers who were involved in such battles beyond Mississippi as Shiloh, Antietam, and Gettysburg. Readers will also find new documentation regarding female fighters held as prisoners of war in such notorious prisons as Andersonville."

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