Lee W. Sherrill, Jr.
526 pp. + 10 pp. introduction, 2015, softcover, $45
Image courtesy of amazon.com
There are a great number of regimental histories being written during the Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War and some of them easily stand out. The 21st North Carolina Infantry: A Civil War History, with a Roster of Officers is one of those which stands out. This massive work is easily one of the most in depth and well written regimental histories which I have read not just within the breadth of the Sesquicentennial Civil War histories, but within regimental histories as a whole. Lee W. Sherrill,, Jr., has delivered one of the most fascinating works on this regiment and should be considered the archetype for the future formula for the writing of regimental histories.
Lee W. Sherrill, Jr., has been researching the 21st North Carolina and their role in the Army of Northern Virginia for twenty years visiting places between Carlisle, Pennsylvania and Atlanta, Georgia. He has also written numerous articles on the regiment along with many presentations not only about the regiment, but of Kirkland’s Confederate Brass Band which belonged to the 21st North Carolina.
One of the things which stuck out to me when I first began to read this book was that it was a different type of regimental history. Just by reading the opening chapters, you can tell the great amount of depth which Sherrill put into this work. Never before have I read a regimental history which gave the depth to the subject which Sherrill has given here. One of the most interesting sections which the book gives us is the descriptions of the Battle of Gettysburg and the first day’s combat which the regiment took part of. In the annals of Gettysburg history, the Brickyard Fight can easily be considered the most ignored part of the battlefield. Here, Sherrill gives us one of the best written accounts of this part of battle. Not only does the author give us a great look into what the 21st North Carolina did during this part of the battle, he gives us a great look into the entire look of the Brickyard Fight. While most regimental histories only give us history, this book gives us a complete roster of officers in the back of the book. This roster breaks down the officers, gives us a little information about them, and goes into the companies of the regiment. The book is accompanied by incredible photographs and maps which aid the flowing narrative and incredible stories of this regiment.
I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in regimental histories of the American Civil War. I also recommend this book to anyone interested in the Battle of Gettysburg since it deals with parts of the battlefield which are generally ignored. Sherrill has definitely given us a work which is different and should be noticed among Civil War historians and students. This is how regimental histories should be written. This book has some incredible research and Sherrill should be praised for the amount of work which he has placed in this tome.