Sunday, July 15, 2007

What I Last Read

The Thirty-Seventh North Carolina Troops

ISBN: 0786415436

This is one of the best regimental histories written recently. And not because I'm biased on this regiment - I'll say up front that I have a few of descendants who served in the 37th NCT. If anything, I have a more critical eye for any writings that concern my kin-folk.

The research is solid, and plenty is taken from soldier's letters, from the 37th and with the units in the same brigade. Also, author Michael Hardy takes writing from the Federal soldiers that fought against the 37th giving some well-rounded details to make this a very compelling read.

The only weaknesses this book really has is the author's propensity to fill in some detail gaps with speculation of the details. These assumptions don't harm the regiment history as a whole, which I feel is very solid, but it flavors the book's narrative with some minor misconceptions. One example is that of the first issue uniforms for the regiment. The photo of Luther Penley in the book gives a better picture of what the 37th was issued, rather than the regulation NC uniforms mentioned in the book.

But, if this is the book's greatest sin, then its greatest virtue is to keep interest and the knowledge of the 37th NCT alive and well, which is something that all regimental histories should aspire to.. No book is going to be 100% on the mark, but this one comes close. Hey, gotta throw the reenactors a bone every so often.

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