The Stonewall Brigade in The Civil War
by Patrick Hook and Steve Smith
A Spearhead Book published by the Zenith Press of Minneapolis, USA. ISBN-13: 078-0-7603-3050-0 128 pages - £12.99.
Review by: Miles Thompson
At first glance this looks remarkably like an Osprey book but it is not. There is an Osprey Stonewall Brigade book at £9.99 for 80 pages which I have not read. When Greg gave this one to me I must confess I though "oh no, another of child's guide to the Civil War" but I soon revised my opinion. It is actually quite good for what it sets out to be.
Basically the book covers quite a lot of what you might have wanted to know about the Stonewall Brigade if you don't know it already. The chapter headings are: Origins and History - a bit shaky and fanciful on pre-war origins but good on the initial `61 organisation: In Action - this comprises 85 pages, most of the book, and sets out to place the Stonewall Brigade in the broad context of the operations of the ANV throughout the war. It is reasonably clear, but inevitably the act of condensing everything leads to some rather odd omissions. I would actually have liked to see more on the actual brigade - but perhaps there isn't any material? The Brigade was pretty much destroyed at Antietam, and again
at the Mule Shoe, and after that it was consolidated with the remains of two other Virginia brigades into one brigade under Terry consisting of 14 regiments! Equipment and Weapons: This is good but I think we know it already. People: This is interesting and deals mostly with the various Brigade Commanders with a bit on the staff, Of the eight commanders, including Jackson four were kia and one died of wounds. Finally a very good, and slightly unusual Assessment chapter which highlights, inter alia, the unusually high desertion rate particularly when the Brigade was serving on the Valley. Also there is an interesting thought that with the death of Jackson, the 1st Corps under Longstreet became the tactical heavyweight on the ANV and therefore the Stonewall brigade, in Ewell's 2nd Corps became less of cutting edge formation. Following the post Mule Shoe consolidation it seems to have gone into a bit of a decline and dwindled to a cipher in the closing stages of the war, lots of regimental flags and not much else.
The illustrations and maps are fine, but I wish publishers would stop using contemporary, fanciful, brightly coloured prints from the Library of Congress, they add nothing. Also I have slight reservations about the use of photographs of well-built reenactors, but these days it seems to be the thing to do.
So would I buy it - no. Do I intend to keep my complimentary copy - no - watch the raffle table! But should other people, possibly non ACWRTUK people buy it - why not?