Osprey Publishing has issued Volume 5 of their popular book, The Confederate Army 1861-65. A part of their sprawling Men-at-Arms series (this is book #441 in that series), this one covers the uniforms and arms of troops from Tennessee and North Carolina. Written by Ron Field and lavishly illustrated with Richard Hook’s watercolors, this book is a worthy addition to the Osprey family. Retailing for $15.95 here in the USA ($21 in Canada), the book has 48 pages, nearly all of them with period photographs or full color drawings.
The new book focuses on each state’s antebellum militia and the hastily organized volunteer regiments that were pressed into Confederate service in the initial stages of the war. Using contemporary newspaper accounts, letters, state and local records, and early photographs, Ron Field presents an extensive array of early war military units, their uniforms and accoutrements, drawing heavily upon primary descriptions. He also takes a cursory, but interesting look at how the transition occurred from locally supplied clothing and equipment (which often varied widely from company to company) to state-issued regulation Confederate uniforms, particularly in North Carolina, where, by the end of the war, the term “ragged Rebel” would be made obsolete from the vast stores of supplies held by the state.
Field starts with Tennessee, looking at the outfitting of the militia and early volunteers in 1861, and examines the role various ladies aid societies played in clothing the soldiers of the Volunteer State. He then discusses the role of the state’s Military and Financial Board in taking over the administration and logistics of supplying the troops. Field then shifts his focus to North Carolina, again discussing and characterizing the antebellum militia and contrasting them to how the state later took charge and made its forces appear more uniform in appearance. He also briefly compares winter clothing to summer issue for troops from both states.
The book includes a select bibliography for readers wanting to dive a little deeper into the outfitting of Confederate troops from Tennessee and North Carolina. The index is comprehensive, as is the discussion that accompanies the Richard Hook’s illustrations. All in all, The Confederate Army 1861-85 (5) Tennessee and North Carolina (ISBN: 9781846031878) maintains the tradition of excellence we have come to expect from Osprey, and is well worth the modest investment.
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