Thursday, January 14, 2010

Those Damned Black Hats!

Those Damned Black Hats! The Iron Brigade in the Gettysburg Campaign.
By Lance J. Herdegen

I am a fan of the Iron Brigade. I would feel this way if its only significance was a heavy number of Wisconsin regiments but they then ended up being one of the better fighting units of the war. When I heard Iron Brigade historian Lance Herdegen was doing a book focusing on the brigade in the Gettysburg campaign my only question was when I would add this book to my library not if I would. Then last year Herdegen was one of the speakers at the Rocky Mountain Civil War Symposium so I decided to wait until the event to buy the book (helping the event’s sales and also to get it signed).

While the focus of the book is Gettysburg Herdegen also does a good job briefly explaining the activities of the brigade both before and after Gettysburg. The battle of Gettysburg is the meat of the book but it was good to also have coverage of the post war efforts at memoralization and the various battle anniversaries the brigade survivors attended.

And as far as the battle goes expect a ton on the events of July 1st. There is some coverage given to the brigade’s activities on the other days but after July 1st there were too few men left to do much of anything. The brigade went into battle with 1883 men but on the night of July 1st the brigade quartermaster only issued 500 rations. The 2nd Wisconsin lost 77%, the 6th Wisconsin lost 48%, the 7th Wisconsin lost 51%, the 19th Indiana lost 72%, and the 24th Michigan lost 80%. Officially they lost 189 killed, 774 wounded and 249 missing (leaving 671 survivors yet only 500 rations were issued so apparently close to 200 men were separated from the regiment that night.

The book itself was a pretty quick read. It has 33 short chapters, none is more than 15 pages long. So it was quite easy to read a chapter or two during the small batches of free time that I have as a husband and father.

The maps are wonderful (done by Bradley Gottfried of Maps of Gettysburg fame) and plentiful. There are also a good number of pictures of brigade veterans.


Slamdunk said...

"leaving 671 survivors yet only 500 rations were issued so apparently close to 200 men were separated from the regiment that night."

Excellent observation--I always learn something when I stop here.

Keep up the good work.

STAG said...

Blowdy heck mate!!!!

Sobering stats for sure.