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CHICAGO'S BATTERY BOYS: The Chicago Mercantile Battery in the Civil War's Western Theater [Paperback]

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Item description for CHICAGO'S BATTERY BOYS: The Chicago Mercantile Battery in the Civil War's Western Theater by Richard Brady Williams...

The Chicago Mercantile Battery was organized in 1862 by a group of prominent Chicago merchants. As part of Maj. Gen. John McClernand's 13th Corps, the battery participated in the long and arduous Vicksburg campaign. The artillerists performed well everywhere they were tested, including Chickasaw Bluffs, Port Gibson, Champion Hill, Big Black River, and the siege against Vicksburg. Ancillary operations included the reduction of Arkansas Post, the capture of Jackson, and others. During the siege of Vicksburg on May 22, 1863, Captain Pat White and his "Battery Boys" took part in the bloody attack against the 2nd Texas Lunette, pushing a one-ton field piece up a ravine to fire point blank within the shadows cast by the enemy's fortifications. (White and five of his artillerists would eventually receive the Medal of Honor for their valor that day.)

After Vicksburg fell, the Chicago battery transferred to New Orleans for service under Maj. Gen. Nathaniel Banks, who was preparing an invasion along the Red River into Texas. At Sabine Crossroads (Mansfield) on April 8, 1864, the "Battery Boys" were overrun by the enemy and nearly wiped out. In addition to the killed and wounded, two dozen gunners were shipped off to a Southern prison. Letters from the Battery Boys broke the wall of silence Banks had erected and alerted the country to the disaster his army had suffered in Louisiana. Swift retribution against White's cannoneers followed.

Richard Brady Williams' Chicago's Battery Boys: The Chicago Mercantile Battery in the Civil War's Western Theater sets forth in stunning detail the magnificent history of this long-overlooked artillery outfit. Based upon years of primary research and a wealth of archival documents, this study features more than 100 previously unpublished wartime letters, diaries, and other eyewitness reports that enrich our understanding of who these men were and what they endured for the cause of liberty and the Union. Williams skillfully weaves these contemporary accounts around a powerful narrative that will satisfy the most discriminating Civil War reader. This revised paperback edition features three dozen previously unpublished photographs of artillerists who served as "Battery Boys."

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Item Specifications...

Pages   588
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 1.5" Width: 6" Height: 9"
Weight:   0.8 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Publisher   Savas Beatie
ISBN  1932714383  
ISBN13  9781932714388  

Availability  0 units.

More About Richard Brady Williams

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Richard Brady Williams is an independent historian based in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. He is author of "Chicago's Battery Boys: The Chicago Mercantile Battery in the Civil War's Western Theater""".

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > History > Americas > United States > Civil War > General
2Books > Subjects > History > Americas > United States > General
3Books > Subjects > History > Military > United States > General

Reviews - What do customers think about CHICAGO'S BATTERY BOYS: The Chicago Mercantile Battery in the Civil War's Western Theater?

Another terrific regimental study  Nov 27, 2006
One of the few publishers still brave enough to issue regimental histories is Savas Beatie. What sets them apart are two things. The books themselves are always wonderfully designed and constructed. When you buy one of their books you get the real deal, top quality bindings and paper, bright illustrations, crisp text. But they also take care to make certain their readers get a good story. They do not give you the collated reprints of the Official Records that sometimes passes for a unit history.
Richard Brady William's Chicago Battery Boys is a shining example of why their books, on so seemingly parochial subjects, are so deserving of the time and money of student's of the Civil War. The book itself will catch your eye. The text will keep your attention. The Chicago Mercantile Battery was raised in the Windy City in 1862, in answer to the second great call for troops that went out that summer. Sent to Grant, they made their fame at Vicksburg where six of their number earned Congressional medals of honor when they carried one of their gun tubes by hand up to the rebel works and began firing at point-blank range through an undefended break in the wall. Their heaviest battle came a year later, at Sabine Crossroads, where they were the only gunners able to get their carriages off the field, only to have to spike them when the route of retreat became irretrievably snarled.
The book is packed with maps, illustrations, and pictures of the men who made this battery a great and memorable unit. The author freely reprints their letters in those instances where the participants themselves can tell the story best. When they can't, he steps in to clearly set out the course of events. If you have an interest in Grant and the western theater of the war, this book will be a welcome addition to your collection.
A Terrific Regimental History  Apr 14, 2006
Until now the Chicago Mercantile Battery for many years shared the unjustified obscurity of many western and trans-Mississippi theater units. Richard Williams has done a stellar job in putting flesh-on-the-bone of one of the more interesting artillery batteries to emerge from Illinois. Presenting and then carefully developing primary sources, the reader will walk away with a very complete and satisfying understanding of Chicago's mercantile battery and its heroic leader, Captain Patrick White. Well written, organized and attractively presented, this is certainly one of the better regimental histories I have had the privilege of reading.
Vicksburg or Hell  Apr 14, 2006
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this account of the Chicago Mercantile Battery. The book tells the story of its role in the Civil War's western theatre as well as what life was like from the view of the soldiers as the war wore on. Rick Williams did a wonderful job of weaving in Will Brown's Civil War letter collection and other material, which bring a vivid 1st hand account of the soldier's struggles to life.
One of my favorite letters is from Corporal Charles Haseltine. He and the Battery Boys encounter the 1st Regiment of Mississippi Light Artillery in the edge of the woods at Champion Hill east of Vicksburg. They get pinned down in front of the Coker house under heavy fire when a piece of artillery shell tears thorough a straw Rebel hat on Haseltine's head. He had just picked up the hat the day before and thought it would bring him luck. The shell knocked him out and the Battery Boys left him for dead at the end of the day. As dusk falls on the battlefield, the Confederates' Brigadier General Lloyd Tilghman is hit by the same shell that kills his horse and the Federals disrupt Pemberton's retreat toward Vicksburg. That night,, four of Haseltine's friends return to the Coker house property to retrieve his body and discover he is alive. Back at camp, a doctor stitches the corporal's forehead back in place, and he lives to tell his story!
The author goes on to describe the Mercantile Battery's role in the Siege of Vicksburg. The Battery Boys drag a one-ton gun up a steep embankment to within 20-30 feet of the 2nd Texas Lunette to fire 14 rounds into the enemy's fort, which enabled the Union infantrymen to withdraw without further damage..
A nice touch that every reader may not notice but will enjoy is the integrated placement of maps, photographs and sketches. Each of them is strategically located on the same page where it is discussed in the book. This placement must have taken quite a bit of effort during the publishing process, but it definitely makes reading the book more enjoyable.
I recommend Chicago's Battery Boys for history enthusiasts who are interested in getting a fresh perspective on what was happening during the Vicksburg and Red River Campaigns. Besides following the various battles, readers may also like the behind-the-scenes look at was happening with civilians in Illinois, Mississippi, and Louisiana. The extensive footnotes will undoubtedly appeal to Civil War buffs who want to delve into this story in greater detail.
A fast-paced adventure in the lives of the Mercantile Battery  Feb 5, 2006
This is one book that one cannot put down. The narrative by Mr. Williams is so nicely done and unobtrusive that I found myself actually seeming to "hear" a professional narrator guide me through the historical events that were occurring on a state/regional/national level during the time of the civil war. I have become acquainted with all of the characters as if they were friends. Of course, Will Brown stands out as each of his weekly letters to his "Dear Father" gives the reader an authentic glimpse at the live of a soldier, which is succinctly intertwined and "in step" with the progression of the narrative. Mr. Williams perspective on the "politics" of the time, the Generals and their capabilities or lack thereof is particularly keen and insightful.

I have to say that this is one of the best novels/historical records that I have had the privilege of perusing. I was saddened when I am finished reading the book as I will miss the feeling of being an actual participant in the story rather than an impersonal reader.

I highly recommend this factual record by novice and historian alike.

Exceptional Unit History  Nov 17, 2005
Unlike so many unit histories, Richard Williams's new study on the Chicago Mercantile Battery is a deep, rich, and rewarding reading experience. The artillerists served from August of 1862 until the end of the war exclusively in the Western and Trans-Mississippi theaters. The high points of their service were during the Vicksburg campaign (where several received the coveted Medal of Honor) and along the Red River, where the battery was overrun and captured. In addition to offering a standard history of the war in a larger context and the battery's role therein, Williams weaves the letters of gunner Will Brown (and a few others) into the narrative. Brown's endlessly fascinating letters home to his father (which he wrote without believing they would ever be published) provide insight on battle experiences, slavery, presidential politics, generalship, and much more. Thanks to Brown's correspondence, we learn what he and his comrades were thinking and feeling while they were thinking and feeling it, instead of after years of reflection. An interesting twist develops when the coverage of the book splits to cover the survivors of Red River and their own unique ordeal, and the experiences of the other "Chicago's Battery Boys" who languished under terrible conditions in a Confederate prison. The extensive end notes span 120 pages, and the bibliography offers a wide array of firsthand research. Williams's study is well written and always interesting. Every history buff will profit from reading it. Includes a Foreword by notes historian Edwin C. Bearss. ISBN: 1-932714-06-5; photos, illus., original maps, roster, appendices, biblio., index, hardcover, d.j., 636 pages. $39.95
Highly recommended.

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