Anishinaabe soldiers with the 1st Michigan Sharpshooters aim to turn the tide of the Civil War in favor of the Union.
Of the approximately 20,000 “American Indians” who served during the Civil War, Sibert winner Walker (Secrets of a Civil War Submarine, 2005) shares stories of several Company K veterans who fought for the Union. From the foundations of soldiers’ prewar lives—rooted in tradition yet influenced by America’s expansion—to their initial muster/shooting qualifications test and on to their first assignment guarding Confederate prisoners at Camp Douglas in Chicago, the first six chapters build anticipation for the battles that follow. When the warriors of Company K finally engage the enemy in a battle known as the Wilderness, it’s a wonder how any of them escape capture let alone survive to wage other campaigns critical to ending the war. Whether enlisting to “abolish slavery or to safeguard their homeland,” the Anishinaabe of Company K did so as noncitizens of the United States, volunteering to fight despite broken treaties and active attempts to eliminate Native peoples. Meticulous research and inclusion of historical photographs, maps, letters, and other Civil War–era documents, as well as the smooth integration of primary source quotes, provide a solid nonfiction target worthy of shelf space. However, it’s the final chapter and epilogue recounting life after the war that give a human depth to the soldiers’ lives and place this work squarely in the bull’s-eye.
Hits the mark. (foreword, note to the reader, muster roll, prologue, author’s note, appendices, glossary, select bibliography, source notes, index) (Nonfiction. 10-14)