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Colonels in Blue: Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin: A Civil War Biographical Dictionary, by Roger D. Hunt

Jeferson, NC: McFarland, 2017. Pp. x, 306. Illus., references, biblio., index. $39.95 paper. ISBN: 0786498552.

More Union Regimental Commanders

Many years ago Hunt began a project to compile short profiles of Union regimental commanders, and with this, the sixth volume in his excellent “Colonels in Blue” series, covers officers from Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. He opens with an introduction offering some background on the project, explaining its limitations – men promoted to brevet or substantive generalships are not included-- and explaining how the information on each officer is presented.

There follows a chapter on each state, opening with a listing of the regiments it sent to the war, and their commanders. Then, in alphabetical order, he gives a short profile of each colonel. These profiles vary in length, due largely to the availability of sources; surprisingly, many of these men left virtually no paper trail, some quite literally disappear from the written record.

In almost every case, Hunt has managed to find a photograph or other image of each officer. Entries usually include some personal details, notes on the man’s war service, and some references. Longer profiles often include information about wounds, remarks – often biting or praising -- by others on the officer’s abilities, information on his education, previous military experience, residence, civilian occupation, and more, including criminal records, cases of bigamy, drinking problems, and so forth.

Frequently, Hunt’s entries are the only biographical treatment available for many of these officers, which makes this book, and the series as a whole, invaluable for serious students of the war, often amusing reading for the casual historian, and a gold mine for genealogical researchers.

 

Note: Colonels in Blue – Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin is also available as an e-book, ISBN 978-1-4766-2635-2.

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Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor   


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