Unit histories tend to fall into one of two camps. The first one, and by far the most prominent in the field emphasizes the battles and campaigns in which the unit participated. This should come as no surprise given the interest of most Civil War enthusiasts. 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. At the same time an increasing number of historians are beginning to look beyond the battlefield exploits of individual units to questions surrounding the social, cultural, and political dynamics of the men who served together and endured the hardships of war for long significant stretches of time and away from loved ones. For these historians, military units such as regiments and brigades reflect the communities from which they were raised and must be explored if we are to understand the experiences of individuals and the overall experiences and effectiveness of the unit.
Scott Mingus’s study of the Louisiana Tigers during the Gettysburg Campaign 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. The book’s appendices include Official Reports, casualty tables, weather analysis, and a helpful chronology of the entire campaign.