Book review

Major Caleb Huse CSA and S Isaac Campbell and Co

by David Burt Publishers Authorhouse UK 130 pages

 

When it became public in 2002 that hundreds of letters and documents were found in the attic of the niece of General Colin J McRae in Mobile, I knew it would not be long before a book was written linking McRae, Caleb Huse and UK manufacturers of arms and material in supplying equipment to the Confederacy.

 

Rather than tell the story chronologically, David Burt has set out the story in a series of vignettes on the characters and companies involved. We learn that Caleb Huse was appointed procurement agent and his rented flat was in Jermyn Street and opposite were the offices of S Isaac Campbell & Co. He contacted them and they jumped at the chance to supply the Confederates. Burt leads us through more characters and stories making clear the problems and difficulties that occurred. There are some nice examples of what was purchased - 23,000 rifles to be delivered to Nassau costing 87,950, 20,000 scabbards costing P-1,500. There are accusations of fraud and quality controls issues; all the standard skullduggery of wartime is in here.


In the second half of this book, we have a lot of photos of the original equipment supplied by S Isaac Campbell & Co held in museums and collections. Whilst interesting to the layman, this section is more suited to the collector.

 

As stated in the opening paragraph, this book is not a novel and as Burt readily admits in his introduction, this is the not the last word on the story, just the beginning. What it does do is fill one or two of those gaps in our knowledge and is well worth a look.