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Harvard's Civil War: The History of the Twentieth Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Paperback – August 31, 2007


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The War That Forged a Nation
Pulitzer Prize-winning historian James M. McPherson looks anew at the reasons America's civil war has remained a subject of intense interest for the past century and a half. Learn more

Editorial Reviews

Review

"[A wonderful addition to the existing list of Civil War unit histories. It is a fine and moving book about an important regiment from New England and is recommended for all students of the Civil War, whether they are Boston Brahmins or the children of Irish millworkers."--The New England Quarterly

Review

"Richard Miller's Harvard's Civil War is quite simply the most outstanding Civil War regimental history I have read. One of the best units in the Army of the Potomac, officered by Harvard alumni, the 20th Massachusetts Infantry fought in all of that army's battles and earned plaudits to match its heavy casualties. Walt Whitman's prediction that the real war would never get in the books was wrong; the real war is in this book." -- James M. McPherson, author of Battle Cry of Freedom
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 554 pages
  • Publisher: UPNE (August 31, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1584656751
  • ISBN-13: 978-1584656753
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 8.6 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,690,672 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover
Independent scholar Richard F. Miller presents Harvard's Civil War: A History Of The Twentieth Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, an in-depth scholarly study of one of the most influential northern units in the Army of the Potomac during the American Civil War. Nicknamed "The Harvard Regiment" due to the quantity of its Crimson-connected officers, this infantry unit was destined to experience the worst of nearly every major battle of the Army of the Potomac from Ball's Bluff (1861) to Grant's Overland Campaign. Because so many of its officer corps were educated men, the Harvard Regiment left behind numerous diaries, memoirs, and letters, which form a solid base of source material for this exhaustive examination of many different personalities that comprised the unit, from abolitionists to radical German emigres that had escaped the failed revolution of 1848 to the sons of prominent Republicans and more. Ethnic tensions further exacerbated the stress of the war itself. Extensively researched and annotated with an index for quick reference, Harvard's Civil War is a superb glimpse into the sufferings, sacrifices, and triumphs of a truly courageous and hardy military unit.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Mark R. Brewer on February 26, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The 20th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry had a fairly large number of young men who were either graduates of Harvard University or students there when the war came. Most of these young men would serve as officers in the 20th. Many of them would never come home, and a large portion of those who did survive had wounds they would carry with them for the rest of their lives. The same was true of the enlisted men.

Richard E. Miller has written a lively, informative and at times gripping history of the regiment, and in doing so, he also gives a history of the Army of the Potomac. But the focus is squarely on the 20th. Their experience is magnified. And it was quite an experience.

The 20th Mass got their baptism of fire at Ball's Bluff in October of 1861. They then participated in most of the major campaigns of the Army of the Potomac, including the Seven Days, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Gettysburg, the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, and Cold Harbor. The regiment had an outstanding reputation for order, discipline, cleanliness and for their ability to stand and fight. They were one of the finest regiments in the entire army.

But they paid a price for their bravery, as deaths and wounds so depleted their numbers that only one hundred or so made it home without having been wounded or captured. Captain Henry Patten wrote home in August of 1864 to tell of "the much-suffering Twentieth." So numerous were their casualties, wrote Patten, that there was "Nothing left of it." A week after writing this, Patten was dead too. At one point, the regiment had only fourteen men able to report for duty.
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Format: Hardcover
Independent scholar Richard F. Miller presents Harvard's Civil War: A History Of The Twentieth Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, an in-depth scholarly study of one of the most influential northern units in the Army of the Potomac during the American Civil War. Nicknamed "The Harvard Regiment" due to the quantity of its Crimson-connected officers, this infantry unit was destined to experience the worst of nearly every major battle of the Army of the Potomac from Ball's Bluff (1861) to Grant's Overland Campaign. Because so many of its officer corps were educated men, the Harvard Regiment left behind numerous diaries, memoirs, and letters, which form a solid base of source material for this exhaustive examination of many different personalities that comprised the unit, from abolitionists to radical German emigres that had escaped the failed revolution of 1848 to the sons of prominent Republicans and more. Ethnic tensions further exacerbated the stress of the war itself. Extensively researched and annotated with an index for quick reference, Harvard's Civil War is a superb glimpse into the sufferings, sacrifices, and triumphs of a truly courageous and hardy military unit.
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