Thanks go out to the great folks at Southern Illinois University Press for sending along a copy of The Prairie Boys Go to War: The Fifth Illinois Cavalry, 1861-1865 . Written by Rhonda M. Kohl, this is "...the only modern, comprehensive analysis of a southern Illinois regiment during the Civil War and combines well-documented military history with a cultural analysis of the men who served in the Fifth Illinois.
"The regiment’s history unfolds around major events in the Western Theater
from 1861 to September 1865, including campaigns at Helena, Vicksburg, Jackson,
and Meridian, as well as numerous little-known skirmishes. Although they were
led almost exclusively by Northern-born Republicans, the majority of the
soldiers in the Fifth Illinois remained Democrats. As Kohl demonstrates,
politics, economics, education, social values, and racism separated the line
officers from the common soldiers, and the internal friction caused by these
cultural disparities led to poor leadership, low morale, disciplinary problems,
and rampant alcoholism.
"The narrative pulls the Fifth Illinois out of historical oblivion,
elucidating the highs and lows of the soldiers’ service as well as their
changing attitudes toward war goals, religion, liberty, commanding generals,
Copperheads, and alcoholism. By reconstructing the cultural context of Fifth
Illinois soldiers, Prairie Boys Go to War reveals how social and economic
traditions can shape the wartime experience."
With over 30 pages of end notes and a 10 page bibliography the research appears to be quite thorough. The book contains 10 maps, several of which are full page and 12 b/w photos.
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