Friday, August 18, 2023

Booknotes: From Western Virginia with Jackson to Spotsylvania with Lee

New Arrival:

From Western Virginia with Jackson to Spotsylvania with Lee: The Civil War Diaries and Letters of St. Joseph Tucker Randolph edited by Peter C. Luebke (35th Star Pub, 2023).

From Western Virginia with Jackson to Spotsylvania with Lee "presents the diaries and letters of St. Joseph Tucker Randolph, a young Confederate soldier from Richmond, Virginia. As might be expected of the son of a bookseller, Tucker's writings offer lucid and candid descriptions of the Civil War." Along with line and staff observations, Randolph's writings also offer both eastern and western perspectives of the war. More from the description: "He began the war in the 21st Virginia Infantry, a part of the famed Stonewall Brigade, before moving on to staff roles with Henry M. Ashby in Tennessee and John M. Pegram in Virginia." The last Randolph letter dates from May 23, 1864, for he was killed in action seven days later at Bethesda Church.

In terms of content, Randolph's "lengthy accounts of campaigning in western Virginia in 1861 and early 1862 give many rich characterizations of the area and Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson. His writings from Kentucky and Tennessee in 1862 offers trenchant commentary on the failures of the western armies. Tucker's return to Virginia in late 1863 as a staff officer gave him the perfect vantage point to write about Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia, including a particularly vivid account of the Battle of Spotsylvania in 1864." According to the blurb written by ANV primary source authority Robert K. Krick, "the book's best content prints Randolph's accounts of Spotsylvania."

In addition to a general introduction to the volume, Peter Luebke's editorial contributions include organizing the material into twelve chapters and providing a contextual introduction and endnotes to each of those. Four maps and numerous other illustrations supplement the text. Additionally, Gary Gallagher "contributes a foreword that amplifies the importance of Tucker's writings."

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