by Lesley J. Gordon
Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2018. Pp. xvi, 384.
Illus., maps, append., notes, biblio., index. $35.00 paper. ISBN: 0807169242
A Hard Luck Regiment
Organized at Hartford on August 24, 1862, within a week the 16th Connecticut had left its home state and reached Washington. Despite having received hardly any training, less than three weeks later, on September 17th, the regiment was thrown into the fighting at Antietam.
Under Confederate pressure, the very green suffered a quarter of its troops killed or wounded, while many others fled, some never to return. Rebuilt, over the next two years the regiment did well in small actions.
Then, on April 17, 1864, the regiment was captured by Confederate forces along with rest of the Union garrison of Plymouth, N. C. The men spent most of the rest of the war at Andersonville, taking heavy losses from privation and disease; of 325 deaths in the regiment, 240 were from disease.
During, and then after, the war, veterans of the regiment tried to restore its reputation, while themselves coming to grips with their wartime experiences. In this work, Prof. Gordon (Alabama) gives us a new kind of regimental history, focused not so much on battlefield deeds as on the day-to-day experiences of the troops, drawing upon a substantial mass of letters, diaries, memoirs, newspaper articles, and more.
A volume in the excellent LSU series “Conflicting Worlds: New Dimensions of the American Civil War”, A Broken Regiment is a good read for anyone interested in the common soldier and the war.
Note: A Broken Regiment is also available in hard cover and several e-editions