Sunday, June 21, 2009

An Excellent Account of a Hard-Fighting Civil War Regiment

The Seventh Rhode Island Infantry in the Civil War, by Robert Grandchamp.
McFarland Publishing Company, 2007, ( 203 pages; $49.95 hardcover (7"x10"), 109 photos, maps, appendices, notes, bibliography, index; for ordering information call 1-800-253-2187; to learn more about the book, click here.
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I have had the great pleasure to become acquainted with Robert Grandchamp over the past several years. Robert and I share a love for the study of the 9th Army Corps and he is, no doubt, the go-to-guy for anything related to Rhode Island's distinguished Civil War history. When I learned that Robert penned a history of the 7th Rhode Island, I was immediately interested since the regiment served alongside the 48th Pennsylvania for much of the war, and served in Nagle's Brigade from Fredericksburg, where they suffered heavy losses, until Nagle's resignation in May 1863. The book, published by McFarland, is of top-notch quality. It is well-laid out and contains scores of photographs, illustrations, and maps. Within the pages, Grandchamp takes us from the organization of the regiment, through all the campaigns and battles, and includes veterans' activities and information all the way until the regiment's final veteran died. Throughout discussion of the regiment's maneuverings and battlefield actions, Grandchamp weaves into the narrative the personal stories of the soldiers and, at times, I felt as though I got to know these men personally. The 7th fought in many of the war's fiercest struggles, and by war's end had suffered a casuatly rate of 80%. The chapters on the 7th's actions during the Overland Campaign and throughout the siege of Petersburg are especially well-written and are of particular value. Grandchamp places special emphasis on Colonel Zenas Bliss, a hard-fighting West Pointer and career-army man, who first led the 7th and who received a Medal of Honor for his battlefield heroics at Fredericksburg. Unfortunately, Bliss was caught up in the witchhunt following the Crater disaster, where the Army of the Potomac's brass sought scapegoats for the defeat and targetted the Ninth Army Corps. Bliss's stellar career was wrongfully tarnished after this battle. For anyone hoping to discover more about the day-to-day activities of a Civil War regiment, or wanting to learn more about the 7th Rhode Island in particular and the 9th Army Corps in general, this is an excellent account, well-written by a leading, indeed, the leading authority on the subject. Robert also hosts a blog on the 7th Rhode Island, which can be found here.

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