Tuesday, December 30, 2008

CWL--- One Northern County's Civil War: Tremendous Resource, Tremendous Story

Our Honored Dead: Allegheny County, Pennsylvania in the American Civil War, Arthur B. Fox, Mechling Bookbindery, photographs, maps, notes, index, bibliography, 486 pages,2008, $39.95.

In Pennsylvania, the cities of Pittsburgh, and Allegheny City and the rest of Allegheny County raised over 200 companies of infantry, cavalry and artillery during the Civil War. Arthur Fox has set forth a clear, complete and very well referenced description Allegheny County's soldiers. With tables of the 1860 and 1870 census, a composite of troop calls, quotas and numbers of Allegheny County and Pennsylvania troops, Fox has find the important numbers for local regional and state researchers as well as social historians. By providing 27 maps that show the cities, boroughs and townships and the major battles at which Allegheny County troops fought, Fox has provided a much needed resource for those not immersed in the military history of the Civil War. Indeed the 71 photographic portraits and drawings embedded in the text insure that the non-Civil War expert will be comfortable with Fox's book.

Readers coming for the first time to mid-19th century history will be pleased to find an entertaining and informative discussion of the county's canals, railroads, newspapers, politics, fire fighting and law enforcement efforts, taverns, horse racing, industries (including the ironworks and the arsenal) and many other things, that form the socio-political environment of the county's' soldiers. Even artists and the 1864 Sanitary Fair are covered in Fox's description of the county.

Fox's treatment of the military companies consists of: dates of enlistment, a biographical description of field officers, the county organization of the regiment, the Allegheny county companies and their captains, the organization of the regiment and its military service, its losses, and its published regimental histories. The book is extensively (35 pages) indexed by subject, personal names, and geographic locations. The bibliography is over 20 pages. Each chapter has its own notes which number 30 to 50. There are 10 appendices regarding; statistics, medal of honor winners, African-American soldiers, generals, Roman Catholic nuns, the payroll of the Allegheny Arsenal which exploded on September 17, 1862, steamships built on the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio River docks in Allegheny, Civil War monuments, and a case study of the veterans of one company, and a list of repositories of Civil War documents.

Because of the wealth of information on Allegheny County, on Pennsylvania, and as a fine model of historic research and writing Our Honored Dead: Allegheny County, Pennsylvania in the American Civil War should be added to the collections all Pennsylvania public, academic, and historical society libraries.

Arthur B. Fox is professor of geography and also teaches courses in regional history and popular culture. His 2002 book, Pittsburgh During the American Civil War, 1860-1865 is a standard among Civil War era Northern urban studies. He was a contributing editor to the African-American Historic Sites Survey of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.

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