Monday, July 3, 2023

Booknotes: Faces of Union Soldiers at Culp's Hill

New Arrival:

Faces of Union Soldiers at Culp's Hill: Gettysburg's Critical Defense by Joseph Stahl & Matthew Borders (Arcadia Pub and The Hist Press, 2023).

Faces of Union Soldiers at Culp's Hill: Gettysburg's Critical Defense is the third installment in Joseph Stahl and Matthew Borders's Faces series. It follows 2019's Faces of Union Soldiers at Antietam and 2021's Faces of Union Soldiers at South Mountain and Harpers Ferry. If the current release pattern holds, we can expect another volume in 2025, perhaps pertaining to another part of the Gettysburg battlefield.

From the description: "The most pivotal defensive line in the most pivotal battle in the history of America. The fighting at Culp's Hill during the Battle of Gettysburg was some of the fiercest during the bloody battle, and holding the hill, for the Union, was essential not only for victory in battle, but protecting the country as a whole. Authors Matthew Borders and Joseph Stahl present intimate portraits of twenty-eight soldiers who defended Culp's Hill, including in-depth analysis of never before published images and harrowing accounts of heroism in the fight to save the Union."

The book is organized into chapters by brigade (those of Greene, Candy, Colgrove, and McDougall), which are further subdivided into regimental sections under which the 28 officer and men portraits reside. Regiment sections consist of brief, war-spanning service histories and contextual overviews of the unit's Gettysburg role, the latter typically drawn from an official battle report.

Portraits span the entire regimental rank structure, from field-grade officer down to private. A biographical sketch is provided that includes not only the individual's Gettysburg activities but his entire war service. What makes the Faces series unique, though, is the focus on the CDV. All aspects of the photograph are scrutinized in the text, from image origins to physical description of the subject to studio prop, clothing, uniform, headgear, accoutrement, and weaponry details.

Bibliography and notes display a wide range of primary and secondary source research. Supporting every chapter is a good map borrowed from Gottfried's Gettysburg atlas. Finally, a register of Union regiments that fought at Culp's Hill is provided in the appendix section, each entry in that having detailed strength, loss, and weapon-type data.

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