Under the Crescent Moon with the XI Corps in the Civil War: Volume 2: From Gettysburg to Victory, 1863-1865
James S. Pula
Savas Beatie, 2018, 370 pgs., $34.95
Image courtesy of amazon.com
I’ve always been fascinated with the Eleventh Corps performance during the height of the American Civil War, especially during their performances during the Chancellorsville and Gettysburg campaigns. For years, they’ve been criticized, even to the point where I once heard a battlefield guide call them “Howard’s Cowards” at Gettysburg. Under the Crescent Moon Volume 2 handles the remainder of their time during the war, and as before, James Pula takes great care in writing on the subject with great authority. For once, there is a work out there that analyzes the actions of the Eleventh Corps instead of finding their faults, and for that, I can already tell you that this work is greatly appreciated.
James S. Pula is the author of Under the Crescent Moon with the Eleventh Corps in the Civil War, Volume I, which detailed their beginnings up until the Chancellorsville campaign. He is also a history professor at Purdue University Northwest and has written many books on immigration and the American Civil War. He has also written The Sigel Regiment: A History of the 26th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry, 1862-1865, of which he won the Gambrinus Prize in History from the Milwaukee County Historical Society, and For Liberty and Justice: A Biography of Brig. Gen. Wlodzimierz B. Krzyzanowski.
The second volume of this collection begins with the Battle of Gettysburg, the opening chapter being labeled as July 1st, 1863. While other works on the battle as a whole often cite the actions of the Eleventh Corps as blundering their way through defending the city and then pulling back, Pula talks of their actions and how they were put into a situation where difficulties were abound. If there’s any way to describe the narrative at this point, it would be intensity. The action moves quickly, almost making part of this book feel like a novel instead of non-fiction. While I could sit here and talk about the excellence of coverage for the Gettysburg Campaign in this book, I would be ignoring the other half of the research. This moves throughout the rest of the war, and while the bulk of the book goes until November of 1863, there is a chapter dedicated to the rest of the war. Pula details the consolidation of the Eleventh and Twelfth Corps into the Twentieth of the Army of the Cumberland, and the aftermath of the action. One of the points that makes the Eleventh Corps so interesting to me as a reader is the German presence in the force. And for those who learn more about the German presence in the corps, they learn more about what was happening back home. That’s what has always made this corps fascinating to me.
I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the American Civil War, especially those who are interested in Gettysburg, and the Immigrant presence in the war. Pula’s narrative shows the importance of their actions during the battles in the second half of the war, and paired with the first volume, this is almost essential for Gettysburg historians. Highly recommended!
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