Book Review: The Pennsylvania Reserves in the Civil War: A Comprehensive History


by Uzal W. Ent

Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2012. Pp. x, 402. Illus., maps, appends., notes, biblio., index. $75.00 paper. ISBN: 0786448725

Pennsylvania’s Storm Troopers

Lincoln’s call for volunteers in the Spring of 1861 met with such enthusiasm in Pennsylvania that rather than turn thousands of men away, the state retained them at its own expense. The troops were organized as the “Pennsylvania Reserves,” a division of 13 infantry regiments plus a regiment of cavalry and one of artillery. The division passed into federal service in mid-1861, and while the cavalry and artillery fought separately, the infantry stayed together division until discharged in 1864. 

In this volume, the first full history of the Reserves, Ent, author of several works in military history, literally gives us a “comprehensive” look at its organization and operations through the war, during which it not only distinguished itself, but also served almost as a schoolhouse for notable generals, George Meade, John Reynolds, and Samuel Crawford all in command at various times. 

The division’s actions are examined in considerable detail, with a critical eye, and Ent includes profiles of many of brigade, regimental, and even lower ranking officers. He also provides excellent footnotes, frequently with comment or analysis of sources where there are controversies. 

The Pennsylvania Reserves in the Civil War is a very welcome addition to the literature of the war.

Reviewer: A.A. Nofi, Review Editor   

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