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Saturday, December 3, 2016

10th Connecticut, Good Subject for a Regimental History

Everybody interested in the Civil War ought to try writing a regimental history.  It gives you a yardstick for measuring the accuracy of more general works.

I don't recommend duplicating a previous regimental history.  Sometimes that can be embarrassing.  A few years ago a book came out on the 57th Massachusetts, Mother May You Never See the Sights I Have Seen.  Unfortunately, the regimental history it was intended to replace (by John C. Anderson), remains a better book.

Plenty of good regimental histories exist, particularly for Federal regiments,  In the brigade I'm going to mention, Foster's brigade of Terry's division, X Corps (and later XXIV Corps), Army of the James, fine histories exist on the 11th Maine, 24th Massachusetts and 100th New York.  On the other hand, by "regimental history," I don't mean the historical sketches that accompany the rosters in John C. Rigdon's books or the H. E. Howard regimental history series--they shouldn't stop anybody from writing a true regimental history if enough documents can be found.

The existence of documents is extremely important.  There will be sufficient docoments for regimentals on many Federal regiments.  Confederate regiments are another matter.  When I picked a regiment to write about, I considered the 12th Virginia, the 12th Mississippi and the 29th United States Colored Troops.  I had relatives in the 12th Virginia and 12th Mississippi.  The 29th United States Colored Troops were recruited in my state, the Sucker State, Illinois.  (The name comes from a bottom-feeding fish, not the electorate foolish enough to elect and reelect politicians who are bankrupting the state.)  There were individuals in the 12th Virginia who left more writings that the 12th Mississippi and 29th United States Colored Troops put together, so the decision to write about the 12th Virginia was easy.  The existence of an historical sketch with the H. E. Howard roster did not deter me because the sketch made practically no use of what I estimate as eight to ten volumes of writings.

The unit that strikes me as ripe for a regimental history is the 10th Connecticut, which Fox included among the 300 Fighting Regiments of the United States Army.  The Connecticut Historical Society has documents from practically every company.  The chaplain left a memoir of his own and a biography of one of the regiment's field officers.  The U. S. Army Heritage and Education Center has a few letters.  The 10th participated in the seizure of the North Carolina sounds in 1862, the Siege of Charleston in 1863 and the Siege of Petersburg in 1864-65.

Somebody connected with the 10th Connecticut should get to work on its history.