Book Review: Of Duty Well and Faithfully Done: A History of the Regular Army in the Civil War


by Clayton R. Newell & Charles R. Shrader

Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2011. Pp. xvii, 391. Illus., maps, tables, append., notes, biblio., index. $75.00. ISBN: 0803219105

Largely overshadowed by the masses of volunteers who constituted the bulk of the armies, North and South, the Regulars are rarely mentioned in accounts of the Civil War save when the background of the principal commanders is discussed.  Nevertheless, Regular Army personnel made important contributions to the Union’s war effort, a matter which is addressed well in Of Duty Well and Faithfully Done

Military historians Newell (The United States Army, A Historical Dictionary, etc.) and Shrader (The Muslim-Croat Civil War in Central Bosnia: A Military History, 1992-1994, etc.), have literally packed an enormous amount of valuable information and analyses about the Regulars in the Civil War into the book, making it a difficult one to classify.  While it certainly is a history of the Regulars during the War, it’s also a reference to the many ways in which the Regulars shaped the Volunteers. So perhaps the best way to consider this volume is to think of it as a guide to the organization, role, and operations of the Regular Army during the war.  In this regard, although the authors don’t actually say it, the service of the Regulars in the field, generally skillful and effective, was of secondary importance to the impressive work of the staff corps, departments and bureaux -- Adjutant General, Pay, Subsistence, Ordnance, Quartermaster, Medical, Judge Advocate, and more -- which, not without some confusion, waste, and pain, were able rapidly to emerge from over a decade of looking after the needs of the minuscule ante bellum army of hardly 17,000 troops to those of a wartime host that peaked at a million. 

As such, this is an absolutely essential work for any serious student of the military aspects of the Civil War or the history of the U.S. Army and of American warmaking.

Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor   

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