- Aug 27, 2020
- North Carolina
What makes a good regimental? And, how do you define “regimental”? Some folks place letters, diaries, and reminisces in the category of a regimental history. Some include brigade and divisional histories as well. Company-level histories? For me, a regimental history is about a regiment – a whole regiment. They can be written by a veteran or a historian of more recent times. Company histories are only marginally regimental histories, and works focused on anything over a brigade fall into a different category (there are very few division-level histories). A good regimental history, for me, has three parts. First, it must be very detailed. I have books on my shelves that are called regimentals but which are nothing more than compilations of official records and hodgepodge rosters. They are not good regimentals. A good historian is going to try and look everyplace, from local libraries, big archives, online, old newspapers, anyplace to try and fish out details. Second, they must be well documented, preferably with footnotes (although some publishers prefer end notes). Those sources allow us who dig deeper to see where a regimental historian got his or her information. Third, someone writing a regimental history must be well grounded in not only the war, but how a regiment worked, from enlistment to burial details, and a score of subjects in between. I once read a regimental that stated “times were so bad, the soldiers only got paid once every two months”; um, that was regulation…
That’s my list. I ask again: what makes a good regimental history?