The Sharpshooters: A History of the Ninth New Jersey Volunteer Infantry in the Civil War

The Sharpshooters: A History of the Ninth New Jersey Volunteer Infantry in the Civil War

The Sharpshooters: A History of the Ninth New Jersey Volunteer Infantry in the Civil War

The Sharpshooters: A History of the Ninth New Jersey Volunteer Infantry in the Civil War

Synopsis

Recruited as sharpshooters and clothed in distinctive uniforms with green trim, the hand-picked regiment of the Ninth New Jersey Volunteer Infantry was renowned and admired far and wide. The only New Jersey regiment to reenlist for the duration of the Civil War at the close of its initial three-year term, the Ninth saw action in forty-two battles and engagements across three states. Throughout the South, the regiment broke up enemy camps and supply depots, burned bridges, and destroyed railroad tracks to thwart Confederate movements. Members of the Ninth also suffered disease and starvation as POWs at the notorious Andersonville prison camp in Georgia.

Recruited largely from socially conservative cities and villages in northern and central New Jersey, the Ninth Volunteer Infantry consisted of men with widely differing opinions about the Union and their enemy. Edward G. Longacre unearths these complicated political and social views, tracing the history of this esteemed regiment before, during, and after the war--from recruitment at Camp Olden to final operations in North Carolina.

Excerpt

Civil War unit histories can provide invaluable insight into the dynamics of mid-nineteenth-century soldier life. the best examples of the genre convey to the reader what the fighting men, North and South, experienced, processed, and remembered: hunger, thirst, fatigue, sickness, physical and psychological pain, the comforts of comradeship, of being part of a corporate endeavor in a worthy cause; the alternating routine and chaos of military duty; the terrifying sights, sounds, and smells of combat. It takes time, however, to provide perspective, balance, and context to soldiers’ reminiscences. Those histories written soon after war’s end by the veterans themselves tended to produce a highly romanticized picture of regimental life and military service. Men known for their unsavory character or unsoldierly conduct were, in a sense, missing in action. the writers filled their pages, instead, with high-toned expressions of patriotism, vignettes of officers and men acting nobly in a noble cause, dramatic depictions of courage under fire, and poignant examples of hardships stoically endured in furtherance of national or sectional goals.

There were, of course, exceptions to this rule. These include the two published histories of the Ninth New Jersey Volunteers, compiled by former members of the regiment, Pvt. Hermann Everts in 1865 and Lt. J. Madison Drake, twenty-four years later. Both works, which contain an almost day-by-day account of regimental activities and a more or less complete roster of officers and men, are treasure troves of . . .

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