New Host for the Regimental Histories Forum

Joined
Aug 27, 2020
Location
North Carolina
Greetings! I’m Michael, the new host for the Regimental Forum. My passion for the War started in 1982. An uncle took me to a reenactment, bought me a jacket and hat, and I was allowed to carry the flag. I was ten and hooked on history. For the next two-plus decades, I was heavily involved in the reenacting world, eventually leading an infantry battalion. I don’t reenact much anymore, but we do spend many weekends volunteering as costumed interpreters at historic sites. My interest in the War years grew, and in 1995, I started working on my first book, a history of the 37th​ North Carolina Troops. While I have written on many different aspects of the War, regimentals remain my first love. Besides the history of the 37th​ NC, I have penned histories on the 58th​ North Carolina Troops, the 39th​ Battalion Virginia Cavalry, and the Branch-Lane brigade. My current project headed to the publishers is tentatively entitled Feeding the Army of Northern Virginia (Savas Beatie).

My interest in regiments runs deep, from how they worked (or didn’t work), officers, food/logistics, military discipline, chaplains, armament, etc. Besides the regiments listed above, I am also interested in the 37th​ Alabama, 8th​ Florida, 16th​ North Carolina, McClung’s Battery (CS), and the 3rd​ North Carolina Mounted Infantry, 13th​ Tennessee Cavalry, 10th​ Michigan Cavalry, 17th​ Michigan Infantry, and 40th​ United States Colored Troops (US).

I am a graduate of the University of Alabama, blog at Looking for the Confederate War, and call western North Carolina home. I’m looking forward to sharing and learning more in the Regimental Forum.
 

lelliott19

Brigadier General
Moderator
* OFFICIAL *
CWT PRESENTER
Forum Host
Silver Patron
Regtl. Staff Chickamauga 2018
Joined
Mar 15, 2013
Welcome and thank you so much for volunteering! I can't think of anyone in the world who would be better at hosting regimental histories forum. We are so honored to have you in this position! Looking forward to all the great discussions that are sure to arise. Thanks again!
 
Joined
Aug 27, 2020
Location
North Carolina
I was surprised to learn that regimental histories are still published, Do you have any current info on the number of active publishers and numbers on regimentals published in recent years?

Also interested in what is known about the audience for these books.
Those are great questions, Bruce. Regimentals are still researched and written today, although the audience is small, and publishers few. I typically divide regimentals into two categories: those written by the veterans themselves, and those written during or since the centennial. A lot of Federal regiments had histories written by the veterans themselves (but I have no idea how many). Confederate regimentals were few and far between. In North Carolina, out of 70+ Confederate regiments, only seven stand alone regimentals were written and published by veterans, and several of those just focus on a company in a regiment. However, since the 1960s, twenty-one regimentals have been published about Confederate North Carolina regiments, and most of them since the year 2000. H. E. Howard published a short history on every Virginia regiment back in the 1980s and 1990s (I am not really a fan of the series), and Broadfoot has been working on a South Carolina series. As I already stated, audiences are small. One of my publishers writes that if a regimental can sell 1,000 copies, it is doing really well. Typically, the people who buy regimentals had an ancestor in that regiment, or are diehard researchers.
 
Joined
Dec 31, 2010
Location
Kingsport, Tennessee
Greetings! I’m Michael, the new host for the Regimental Forum. My passion for the War started in 1982. An uncle took me to a reenactment, bought me a jacket and hat, and I was allowed to carry the flag. I was ten and hooked on history. For the next two-plus decades, I was heavily involved in the reenacting world, eventually leading an infantry battalion. I don’t reenact much anymore, but we do spend many weekends volunteering as costumed interpreters at historic sites. My interest in the War years grew, and in 1995, I started working on my first book, a history of the 37th​ North Carolina Troops. While I have written on many different aspects of the War, regimentals remain my first love. Besides the history of the 37th​ NC, I have penned histories on the 58th​ North Carolina Troops, the 39th​ Battalion Virginia Cavalry, and the Branch-Lane brigade. My current project headed to the publishers is tentatively entitled Feeding the Army of Northern Virginia (Savas Beatie).

My interest in regiments runs deep, from how they worked (or didn’t work), officers, food/logistics, military discipline, chaplains, armament, etc. Besides the regiments listed above, I am also interested in the 37th​ Alabama, 8th​ Florida, 16th​ North Carolina, McClung’s Battery (CS), and the 3rd​ North Carolina Mounted Infantry, 13th​ Tennessee Cavalry, 10th​ Michigan Cavalry, 17th​ Michigan Infantry, and 40th​ United States Colored Troops (US).

I am a graduate of the University of Alabama, blog at Looking for the Confederate War, and call western North Carolina home. I’m looking forward to sharing and learning more in the Regimental Forum.
Congratulations!
 

letterreader

Private
Joined
Oct 16, 2016
Greetings! I’m Michael, the new host for the Regimental Forum. My passion for the War started in 1982. An uncle took me to a reenactment, bought me a jacket and hat, and I was allowed to carry the flag. I was ten and hooked on history. For the next two-plus decades, I was heavily involved in the reenacting world, eventually leading an infantry battalion. I don’t reenact much anymore, but we do spend many weekends volunteering as costumed interpreters at historic sites. My interest in the War years grew, and in 1995, I started working on my first book, a history of the 37th​ North Carolina Troops. While I have written on many different aspects of the War, regimentals remain my first love. Besides the history of the 37th​ NC, I have penned histories on the 58th​ North Carolina Troops, the 39th​ Battalion Virginia Cavalry, and the Branch-Lane brigade. My current project headed to the publishers is tentatively entitled Feeding the Army of Northern Virginia (Savas Beatie).

My interest in regiments runs deep, from how they worked (or didn’t work), officers, food/logistics, military discipline, chaplains, armament, etc. Besides the regiments listed above, I am also interested in the 37th​ Alabama, 8th​ Florida, 16th​ North Carolina, McClung’s Battery (CS), and the 3rd​ North Carolina Mounted Infantry, 13th​ Tennessee Cavalry, 10th​ Michigan Cavalry, 17th​ Michigan Infantry, and 40th​ United States Colored Troops (US).

I am a graduate of the University of Alabama, blog at Looking for the Confederate War, and call western North Carolina home. I’m looking forward to sharing and learning more in the Regimental Forum.
Good morning Michael and thanks for taking on this responsibility on the forum. I'm starting to compile a list of regimental histories (just beginning) and have quickly discovered there is a wide range of standards and quality in this sub-genre of military history. I did find an interesting article here, perhaps you have already seen it, on regimental histories by Timothy J. Orr, on the Essential Civil War Curriculum at https://www.essentialcivilwarcurriculum.com/regimental-histories.html He presents a broad overview, the major changes in how regimental histories have been researched and written in the past and more recent works he recommends.

I'm interested in two things: What makes a good regimental history for today's Civil War reader? Many of the first histories were written by a veteran of the unit or someone hired by the veterans whom they trusted and respected. These works can be interesting, but can also be biased and limited to the major events and actions with little attention to the "voices" of the men themselves through letters and journals. Orr's article provides additional insight on the changes in the genre.

Second, I'm searching for histories on light artillery batteries in the War. I believe in the Union Army, about 5% of all units were light artillery but they appear even less represented in regimental histories, or any history for that matter. If you know of any to recommend, please do. I have read the History of Battery G, 1st NY Light Artillery by Captain Nelson Ames. It is a nice and brief read, but sorely lacking on details and insight about their overall experience, beyond their organizing and mustering in. Of course John Billings Hardtack and Coffee is an excellent read, not because of the "history" of the regiment, but because of the insight he provides on camp life and the soldier's daily experience. I'm also considering writing my own work on my grandfather's unit after completing some other projects so building the tools and knowledge for what makes a good regimental history, is part of the task. Thanks again.
 
Joined
Aug 27, 2020
Location
North Carolina
Joined
Aug 27, 2020
Location
North Carolina
...What makes a good regimental history for today's Civil War reader?
You ask several good questions. Let's look at this one: "What makes a good regimental history for today's Civil War reader?" For me, there are three components to a good regimental: The first would be a lot of details, provided by good sources. It is easy to hit the major libraries. What takes time is going to the smaller libraries (like county libraries) and rooting through piles of family histories and historical society newsletters, looking for letters or diaries that never made it to the big institutions. Sometimes it is just one letter, and at other times, five or six or a dozen. Local historical societies are the same way. They might have pieces that enrich the project substantially. Second would be good notes. A non-fiction history without good notes is almost worthless. Third would be a really good understanding of regiments, and how they worked. I think it is easier to write a book on a battle than on a regiment. A regimental history is going to look at numerous battles, command structures, medical, religious, the supply system, military justice, morale, etc., etc. I thought I knew a lot about the war when I first started writing. Boy, did I have a lot to learn (and I'm still learning).
 

JeffFromSyracuse

Corporal
Joined
Jul 6, 2020
Location
Philly Suburbs
You ask several good questions. Let's look at this one: "What makes a good regimental history for today's Civil War reader?" For me, there are three components to a good regimental: The first would be a lot of details, provided by good sources. It is easy to hit the major libraries. What takes time is going to the smaller libraries (like county libraries) and rooting through piles of family histories and historical society newsletters, looking for letters or diaries that never made it to the big institutions. Sometimes it is just one letter, and at other times, five or six or a dozen. Local historical societies are the same way. They might have pieces that enrich the project substantially. Second would be good notes. A non-fiction history without good notes is almost worthless. Third would be a really good understanding of regiments, and how they worked. I think it is easier to write a book on a battle than on a regiment. A regimental history is going to look at numerous battles, command structures, medical, religious, the supply system, military justice, morale, etc., etc. I thought I knew a lot about the war when I first started writing. Boy, did I have a lot to learn (and I'm still learning).
So, firstly, boy is it good to know I'm on the right track with approach.

Second, you're not kidding about learning new stuff. I've always been Gettysburg-centric, so writing this history has made me actually read about the Overland Campaign (Gordon Rhea is a genius) and all of the Petersburg battles (Petersburg is way more interesting than it gets credit for).

Third, this is a hobby, but I put in second-job hours doing it. I work in market research, so I want to see things quantified. Unfortunately, to quantify information about personnel means logging by hand. I've put in at least 500 hours of database building so far, with half the regiment's medical records at the Archives still to go. (I love it or I wouldn't be doing it, but this is pretty much my only hobby.)
 
Joined
Aug 27, 2020
Location
North Carolina
...database building...
I build databases all over the place - who enlisted when, who deserted, who died, when they died, what they died of, courts martials, etc. I can usually compile enough (even with the missing pieces) to say when the regiment was really sick, or plagued by deserters, or... And it is a lot of work for just two or three sentences in the final draft.
 

JeffFromSyracuse

Corporal
Joined
Jul 6, 2020
Location
Philly Suburbs
I build databases all over the place - who enlisted when, who deserted, who died, when they died, what they died of, courts martials, etc. I can usually compile enough (even with the missing pieces) to say when the regiment was really sick, or plagued by deserters, or... And it is a lot of work for just two or three sentences in the final draft.
Exactly what I'm aiming for. And it's so gratifying to finish (and so interesting to compile) that the cost well outweighing the benefit somehow balances it all out.
 

Bruce Vail

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Jul 8, 2015
Welcome and thank you so much for volunteering! I can't think of anyone in the world who would be better at hosting regimental histories forum. We are so honored to have you in this position! Looking forward to all the great discussions that are sure to arise. Thanks again!

Aren't you writing a regimental history? Have a publisher?
 
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