24 July 2007
I admit I’m something of a research snob.
I prefer sources primary and delight in finding fault (at least in my own head) with the over-simplification and same-old tired anecdotes found in many mass market publications. The ubiquitous Time-Life Civil War series is a good example of this sort. Last week, however, I found a gem among these weeds.
Also by the Editors of Time-Life, this 1996 volume is packed with carefully selected eyewitness quotes, stunning photographs, and excellent explanatory text. I’m embarrassed to tell you I didn’t even know the book existed til I found it in a neighboring library.
A likely explanation for its unexpected quality can be found in the list of “consultants” credited in the back of the volume. These were the late Brian Pohanka, ANB Historian Ted Alexander, and Gettysburg’s Scott Hartwig. I see their fingerprints all over it.
I’ve not mined all the gold yet, but have found rare photographs for several of my ‘boys’ already. If you know my particular fascination with more junior officers in leadership roles at the battle, you can imagine my joy in finding these.
A fine example is this cased image of Captain James G. Rodgers, 12th Georgia Infantry. He was in command of his battered regiment at Sharpsburg and, after having the fingers of his left had shot off, and taking a bullet in the thigh, was finally killed by a round in the back of the head. I had correspondence a few years ago with some of his descendants who did not know there was a photograph. I expect they’ll be very pleased.
Another evocative piece is this CDV of Confederate artilleryman George V. Moody.
Captain Moody commanded the Madison Light Artillery battery of Louisiana at Sharpsburg. You can see in his eye some hint of why he was thought to be demanding and hard to get along with. Somewhat older than most of his peers, he was later a POW at Camp Chase and was with President Jefferson Davis as he fled south at the end of the War.
Clearly I don’t know nearly enough about either of these Confederate Captains. I’m challenged now to dig a bit deeper. Meanwhile, I’ve got their faces to connect to their names on AotW.
I’ll leave you with this last tidbit from Voices–one of my favorite quotes from the battle. Talking about being under severe artillery and rifle fire above the Lower Bridge on the afternoon of that Wednesday, Lieutenant Matthew Graham of the 9th New York Infantry (Hawkins’ Zouaves) later wrote:
I was lying on my back, supported on my elbows, watching the shells explode overhead and speculating as to how long I could hold up my finger before it would be shot off, for the very air seemed full of bullets, when the order to get up was given. I turned over quickly to look at Col. Kimball, who had given the order, thinking he had become suddenly insane; never dreaming that he intended to advance in that fire, and firmly believing that the regiment would not last one minute after the men had got fairly on their feet…
We got up and went forward …
Bully Ninth! Bully Ninth!
All images above are from Voices of the Civil War: Antietam by the Editors of Time-Life Books, Alexandria (Va): Time-Life Books, 1996.
The original of Captain Rodgers’ photograph was owned by Mrs Lucille G Parrish and is in the Gregory A Coco Collection (Bendersville, PA); Captain Moody’s is from the original owned by Eric D Rivenbark. The zouave jacket is from Don Troiani’s collection.