The comprehensive regimental history of a Confederate artillery unit.
This scholarly debut by Kindig, a retired community college history professor, chronicles the soldiers, equipment, movements and battles of a light artillery unit from its spring-1861 formation in Memphis, Tennessee, by Capt. Smith P. Bankhead to its Dec. 9, 1863, disbandment following the South’s defeat at Missionary Ridge. Kindig draws his title from praise for the troops offered by commander William L. Scott in a five-page summary he penned in 1886, previously the only work to focus on the unit. Kindig spent 30 years tracking down records that Scott thought had been lost or never knew existed, and the result is an impressive historical re-creation. Readers find themselves on the ground and in the midst of battle as a result of Kindig’s intimate and uncanny familiarity with the daily movements and moods of these soldiers. He has pieced together minute details from hundreds of sources, including government records, personal letters, memoirs and scholarly texts, all of which are footnoted for easy reference. Fifteen appendices organize rosters, ranks, recruits, transfers and desertions. Although the narrative assumes a basic knowledge of Civil War history, any reader will grasp the rank-and-file’s reactions to repeated decisions by Gen. Braxton Bragg that turned tactical victories into strategic retreat as well as their struggling morale as material shortages worsened. Kindig’s affection for the characters he has so thoroughly studied is apparent, as is his respect for their commitment, if not their cause. Though he presents the conflict from their point of view, he maintains a scholarly rather than partisan tone. The only shortcomings are mediocre illustrations and scattered typos and editing miscues. Errant words, apparently orphaned when sentences were revised, occasionally mar what is otherwise clear, well-paced prose. Given the author’s extraordinary attention to detail in every battle, it’s a shame that location maps aren’t more legible and more numerous. Nevertheless, Kindig achieves his stated goal of telling “the stories of common men,” and aficionados of the genre will find a wealth of information and insight to enjoy.
A worthy addition to any Civil War bookshelf.