Friday, January 6, 2023

2022 A.M. Pate Award winner

Congratulations to Fay Yarbrough, richly deserving recipient of the 2022 Pate Award for her late-2021 book Choctaw Confederates: The American Civil War in Indian Country (UNC Press). As mentioned before, the award selection committee solicits a list of nominees from me each year, and I was more than happy to suggest this one as a strong candidate (it was my first runner-up for CWBA BotY)

Formal unit histories of Union and Confederate Indian battalions and regiments, many of which endured long service, continue to be an untapped category of modern Civil War publishing. Only one full-length study exists, 1989's The Confederate Cherokees: John Drew's Regiment of Mounted Rifles, which was reissued in 2017 with a new preface. That regiment was short lived as a unit, its greater portion deserting in late 1861. Scarce source material written by the men in the ranks is always going to make the job difficult, but Yarbrough's selective investigation of various aspects of the First Choctaw and Chickasaw regiment and Jane Johansson's Albert C. Ellithorpe, the First Indian Home Guards, and the Civil War on the Trans-Mississippi Frontier (2016) tentatively suggest that Indian regimental histories are possible if the author is willing to get more creative than usual.

Though Choctaw Confederates would have been a top contender in any year, it was pretty slim pickings in 2022 for those interested in Trans-Mississippi Civil War topics. The campaign and battle history landscape in particular has dried up over recent years. Hopefully, we're just in the middle of a temporary rough patch.

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