I just finished reading Scott Mingus’s book on the Louisiana Tigers for a review in the journal, Louisiana History. Mingus’s focus is specifically the Gettysburg Campaign (June-July 1863) Let me just say at the outset that I thoroughly enjoyed the book. Mingus has a command of the relevant primary sources and the book is well written and should be read by those interested in military history, Louisiana History and, of course, Gettysburg. I will post the review when it is published, but I wanted to share a few thoughts that will not make it in the review owing to space issues.
It seems to me that unit histories fall into one of two camps. The first one, and by far the most prominent, is the standard/traditional unit history, which emphasizes the campaigns/battles in which the unit participated. This should come as no surprise given that this is what most Civil War enthusiasts are interested in. The focus may be on a unit’s experience in a particular campaign or the war as a whole. By focusing on one unit the historian is able to provide a level of tactical detail that is usually absent from broader studies. The best of the bunch may even be able to point out crucial aspects of a particular battle that work to revise our understanding of its outcome and significance. Mingus’s book fits neatly into this first camp. He offers the reader a brief history of the unit, beginning with the raising of Company B under the command of Major Chatham Roberdeau Wheat in New Orleans in 1861. Mingus briefly touches on the unit’s early history before the battalion was assigned to the First Louisiana Brigade under the command of brigadier general Harry T. Hays in 1862. From there it is a quick jump to the spring of 1863 following the decisive Confederate victory at Chancellorsville. Mingus does an outstanding job of following the unit on its march north toward Maryland and Pennsylvania and covers the unit’s involvement in the battle of Second Winchester in great detail. It goes without saying that Mingus’s coverage of the “Louisiana Tigers” at Gettysburg will satisfy even the most voracious appetites for tactical detail. [click to continue…]