Lance J. Herdegen
Savas Beatie, 2018, 168 pgs, $15.5
Image courtesy of amazon.com
There have been many books written about the Union soldier during the American Civil War, but most pinpoint a certain individual either through a regimental history or through human interest. But there have been very few to my knowledge that chronicle the overall life of “Billy Yank.” In Lance Herdegen’s book, Union Soldiers in the American Civil War, he takes a look at how the Union soldier evolved over time, the number of names they took upon themselves, and even their lifestyle. Overall, the book is written highly accessible, using a number of photographs and illustrations that can give the reader a full view of how these soldiers lived, and more importantly, who they are.
Lance J. Herdegen has written a number of award winning books on the American Civil War. One of his more recent releases is The Iron Brigade in Civil War and Memory: The Blackhats from Bull Run to Appomattox and Thereafter. He served as Chair of the Wisconsin Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission and had an extensive career with the United Press International news service. He has also written Those Damned Black Hats: The Iron Brigade in the Gettysburg Campaign which won him the Army Historical Foundation’s Distinguished Writing Award for Battle/Operational history.
Have you ever wondered what the proper organizational protocol was for the Union army and where a regular soldier would have ranked? Have you ever wondered what the standard diet was for a soldier fighting for the United States during this time? All those details are here in this book, and offer a glimpse into the life of these men who served. Not only did Herdegen bring this information to us all, but there’s so much more. The book is filled with quotes of these soldiers actually speaking to us, along with diagrams on how they were to handle their equipment that the narrative produced here is not only genuine, but pulsating. You can feel the beat of their hearts as you read through the text, and for me, as you all know, is a sign of a fascinating and spectacular narrative. Herdegen also talks about how the Emancipation Proclamation changes the face of the war in the form of the African American soldier. At the end of the work is a stunning gallery of Union soldiers and some of the stories that go along with them. What was fascinating to me, most of all, was the section on Prisoners of War and how both sides had little protocol dealing with them since both sides thought the war would only last a few months. I could go on and on about what was done well in this book, but for the most part, I would say that every aspect you could think about a Union soldier’s life, and even those sailors in the Navy, is presented here.
I highly recommend this book to all interested in the American Civil War. First and foremost, to those who are beginners to the study of the conflict, this book seems almost essential. The work put here should be enough to get your interests off the ground. And for those who are entrenched in the Civil War as part of their own lifestyle, this book does offer some unique insights into the life of “Billy Yank.” So, in that regard, this book is truly for everyone. Herdegen has done a magnificent job in this work, and should be praised for what he’s presented. Highly Recommended!