by Frank Callenda
Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2013. Pp. x, 318.
Maps, notes, biblio., index. $35.00 paper. ISBN: 0786448997
Brooklyn’s Own Zouaves in the Civil War
The 14th New York Militia was a zouave regiment formed during the War with Mexico. During the Civil War, the regiment entered federal service as part of New York’s quota under Lincoln’s April 15, 1861 call for volunteers, and served at Bull Run, where Confederate brigadier T.J. Jackson (not yet “Stonewall) allegedly gave it the nickname "Red Legged Devils". Mustered out of federal service after the battle, the regiment returned to New York, and was reorganized as a three year volunteer regiment and reentered federal service as the 84th New York Volunteers.
Always referred to as the “14th Brooklyn,” the regiment fought in the Army of the Potomac from the Second Bull Run Campaign through Spotsylvania. It was particularly distinguished at Gettysburg, where it was engaged on all three days. Independent historian Callenda does a very good job of telling the story of the “Red Legged Devils,” from their formation well before the Civil War until its return from the front in the Spring of 1864. In the process we get good looks at some of the men who passed through its ranks, who came from Brooklyn’s leading families, among them Col. Alfred M. Wood, who was captured at Bull Run and later became mayor of Brooklyn, and Col. Edward Fowler, who attained a brevet brigadier generalcy at the head of the regiment.
Although occasionally one could wish for more detail, this is a generally solid, readable regimental history, and will be of use to anyone interested in the war in the east, as well as of students of the militia and volunteers, and, of course, genealogical researchers.