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In the Very Thickest of the Fight: The Civil War Service of the 78th Illinois Volunteer Infantry Regimentby Steve Raymond
Synopses & Reviews
The regiment known as the 78th Illinois had an inauspicious start. The troops served under an absentee colonel who feuded with his officers and superiors, ended up arrested, and finally retreated to his tent and did nothing. They were issued regiment ancient rifles, including many that did not work. The regiment's companies were posted separately as guards at railroad bridges, which prevented the regiment from drilling and learning to maneuver as a unit. Devoid of leadership, distrusted by senior officers, the 78th became a regiment that was always left behind when others went to the front. Until they weren't. In addition to the personal stories this book tells, it offers details of many incidents and battles that have virtually escaped the prior notice of historians because those details are part of the story of this ignominious regiment. It also describes Western campaigns that have traditionally taken a back seat to the Eastern Theater in Civil War literature, and its narrative plays out against a broad landscape of six states—Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama and the Carolinas.
The 78th Illinois Volunteer Infantry Regiment took the field under command of a lackadaisical colonel who was frequently absent and feuded with his own officers and superiors. Distrusted by senior officers, the 78th became a regiment that was always left behind—until its own officers forced their reluctant colonel to resign. His replacement was a forceful leader who turned the regiment into a crack fighting outfit that performed heroically in the battle of Chickamauga and many of the great battles of the Atlanta campaign. It later joined Sherman’s March to the Sea and fought its way out of the tangled swamps of Bentonville in one of the war’s last battles. Its story is told here mostly in the words of its soldiers through letters, diaries and other sources, many never before accessed by historians. This book sheds new light on many important incidents and battles in the Civil War’s Western Theater.
About the Author
Steve Raymond is author of nine previous books. He is a long-time member of the Civil War Trust and the Puget Sound Civil War Roundtable and for many years has been the Seattle Times’ chief reviewer of Civil War history. In that capacity he is a member of the National Book Critics Circle.
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