Academic journal article The Journal of Southern History

The Untried Life: The Twenty-Ninth Ohio Volunteer Infantry in the Civil War

Academic journal article The Journal of Southern History

The Untried Life: The Twenty-Ninth Ohio Volunteer Infantry in the Civil War

Article excerpt

The Untried Life: The Twenty-Ninth Ohio Volunteer Infantry in the Civil War. By James T. Fritsch. (Athens, Ohio: Swallow Press/Ohio University Press, 2012. Pp. xiv, 501. Paper, $34.95, ISBN 978-0-8040-1139-6.)

James T. Fritsch's The Untried Life: The Twenty-Ninth Ohio Volunteer Infantry in the Civil War examines the Twenty-ninth Ohio Infantry, a threeyear volunteer regiment raised in Ashtabula and Summit Counties. After organizing at Camp Giddings in Jefferson, Ohio, and then wintering on the upper Potomac River, the Twenty-ninth Ohio went into action, amassing an amazing list of military accomplishments. In 1862 it chased Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson's army in the Shenandoah Valley. In 1863 it took on the Army of Northern Virginia at Chancellorsville and Gettysburg. Additionally, it helped break the Confederate siege of Chattanooga, and many of the men reenlisted as a veteran volunteer unit. In 1864 the regiment marched with General William T. Sherman's armies during the Atlanta and Savannah campaigns, and in 1865 it fought in the Carolinas, later participating in the Grand Review. By the end of the war, 271 of some 1,518 officers and men who served in the regiment had died of combat, of disease, or by accident. Few units in the Union army fought in such a varied, distinctive array of military campaigns.

For such a well-traveled regiment, the Twenty-ninth Ohio lacked scholarly attention for the entire twentieth century. Before The Untried Life, only one book existed, a 130-page narrative written by a veteran, published in 1883. Of course, Fritsch's analysis is a substantive update to this veteran's book because it describes more than a litany of the regiment's combat action. Fritsch also presents a dynamic social history of the regiment, examining the soldiers' motivations for enlisting, their period of recruitment, and the seedy, vice-ridden tales of camp life. In general, Fritsch attempts to give the Twenty-ninth Ohio's soldiers a collective personality, one that tends to portray them not only as victims of the war's violence but also as actors in its high drama. Readers are treated to lurid analyses of the regiment's desertion rate, its problems with alcohol, its festivals and camp high jinks, its treatment of sutlers and slaves, its opinions of the enemy, its ebbs and flows of morale and discipline, and its somber mourning for those who died in battle or in the hospital. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.