John F. Schmutz
Savas Beatie, 2017, 368 pp., $32.95
Image courtesy of amazon.com
As the Civil War’s Sesquicentennial has come to a close, there was great concern for me that study might wane when it came to the conflict. However, some works which have been recently published have shown me that this is not the case, and I can rest easily. One of the authors who has brought a regimental history to the forefront is John F. Schmutz and his work on the 5th Texas Infantry Regiment. The book presented today is the second volume in his seminal work around the regiment taking the readers from Gettysburg to Appomattox. Throughout this book, the author presents the narrative with the ease knowing that the study of the war will always bring out new information.
John F. Schmutz has enjoyed his career as a corporate attorney with a fascination on the American Civil War for most of his life. He is a veteran of the United States Army and enjoys playing golf along with international travel. His first book was The Battle of the Crater: A Complete History which was published in 2009. The first volume in the 5th Texas Regiment series, “The Bloody Fifth”: The 5th Texas Infantry Regiment, Hood’s Texas Brigade, Army of Northern Virginia. Volume 1: Secession to the Suffolk Campaign, was the winner of the 2017 Texas Association of Authors Book Award, Non-Fiction Military History.
The second volume of Schmutz’s work picks up right as the first left off. For the most part, there are many readers who have avidly waited for the narrative on the Gettysburg Campaign which is presented in this volume. I, for one, was one of those people. I find Mr. Schmutz’s narrative to be what a regimental history needs. By that, I mean that the facts must be presented, but at the same time, they should hold the interest of the reader throughout. That is what Mr. Schmutz has done here. Authors should take note of this book, along with the first volume: this is how regimental histories should be written. Every detail which Schmutz presents in this work is greatly researched and told in ways which connect with the reader. On top of that, he is able to present new material from personal recollections and accomplishes such that makes it memorable. Put that on top of the excellent maps and perfectly placed photographs of those who fought, this is a stunning addition to this work.
When I first heard about the work about the 5th Texas Infantry Regiment, I was intrigued. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested not only in regimental history, but in the American Civil War as a whole. This regiment was at many of the key battles throughout the conflict and much can be learned about the war through the eyes of these soldiers. Mr. Schmutz’s narrative is incredible, keeping the interest of the reader throughout, and the maps are meticulously drawn and perfectly placed, so the reader has no confusion of what they’re looking at. One thing is for certain: I look forward to what else Mr. Schmutz can bring us through his research. Highly Recommended!