F. Ray Sibley, Jr.
Savas Beatie, 2014, 390 pp., $49.95
Image courtesy of amazon.com
There have always been books about statistics and organizations for Civil War campaigns and units, but none ever like this. When I first heard about Confederate Artillery Organizations, I was intrigued by the idea and wondered constantly how it would be handled. When I received this work, I was pleasantly surprised at the format of the text and how easy it was to read it. F. Ray Sibley has provided the study of artillery during the American Civil War with something no other historian has been able to do. He was able to list and draw out all of the batteries which participated in the war and the officers which led them.
F. Ray Sibley Jr. Has received his undergraduate and his graduate degrees from the Southeastern Louisiana University and has worked as an educator at the St. Tammany Parish in Louisiana. He has always had a deep interest in the war and is also the historian who wrote The Confederate Order of Battle: The Army of Northern Virginia which was a three volume study of the Confederate orders of battle which will also include volumes on the Trans-Mississippi and the Coastal Defenses. He has retired from teaching and spends his time tutoring, hunting, growing beautiful day lilies and reading anything he can.
One would think that this is a simple book of statistics, but you would be wrong. Not only does this book provide an outlook into the organization of the battery and its officer, it provides a plethora of useful footnotes which gives information that may or may not have conflicted with official reports. For example, one of the batteries in question was a commission date of an officer in Badham’s Battery, Lieutenant Nelson McClees. One source states the commission date was February 4th, 1862 while another states the commission as February 10th, 1862. While this seems like a minor issue, the change in dates can be a larger help in the overall study of artillery and is quite useful. Other footnotes account for actions of officers other issues which have occurred in previous studies. The study is done in an alphabetical order which makes it easier to find batteries than if you organized them by state or division of the army. Other statistic driven works have organized regiments in a state order and has made finding artillery that much more difficult to analyze. But in this format, the batteries were easy to find which makes the book more valuable to any Civil War student and historian.
I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the artillery during the Civil War. The wealth of information stored in this volume is incredible and should be on the shelf of any Civil War historian or student. Without this study in the artillery, there may have been questions as to the organization of the officers and battery itself. Now, with Confederate Artillery Organizations, the students and historians of the future will thank Mr. Sibley for the work which he has done in this fine work. This is the definitive book on artillery organization on the market right now.