Book Review: Upton's Regulars: The 121st New York Infantry in the Civil War


by Salvatore G., Jr. Cilella

Lawrence, Ks.: University Press of Kansas, 2009. Pp. xiii, 586. Illus., map, notes, biblio., index. $39.95. ISBN: 700616454

While the subtitle of Upton's Regulars can easily lead one to conclude that it's "just" a regimental history of the 121st New York, yet another in the seemingly endless stream of Civil War unit histories, this work is much more than that. 

In Upton's Regulars Mr. Cilella, an experienced museum director who is currently President of the Atlanta Historical Society, does give us a comprehensive look at the organization, life, and adventures of the 121st New York, the common fare for regimental histories.  But he also delves deeply into the social and cultural background of the regiment's personnel and the area around Otsego County, in upstate New York, from which most of them came.  There are mini-biographies of many of the men, and wonderful profiles of some, most notably the brilliant Emory Upton.  Nor does Cilella stop there.  He goes on to look at the veterans' experience in the long decades that followed and their efforts to preserve the memory of their deeds and shape the narrative of the war. 

A complex and very valuable work for anyone with an interest in the Civil War, the soldier's experience of war, and the veteran.


Reviewer: A. A. Nofi   

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