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In the First Line of Battle: The 12th Illinois Cavalry in the Civil War Hardcover – December 1, 2001


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Northern Illinois University Press; 1 edition (December 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0875802796
  • ISBN-13: 978-0875802794
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,702,338 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"A genuine contribution to the history of the Union cavalry."—Michigan Historical Review

"Blackwell's research and care of the subject is great.... One realizes and appreciates the efforts of the real-life men in the glorious, mundane, and fearful aspects of the war"—Journal of Illinois History

About the Author

Samuel M. Blackwell Jr. is visiting Assistant Professor of History at Northern Illinois University.


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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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As with all good writing, the details tell the story.
William Harshbarger
If you are a Civil War buff, you'll read this book straight through.
Jack M. Kneece Jr.
The 12th Illinois Cavalry was a good selection of a unit to follow.
Timothy Mccune

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By William Harshbarger on March 31, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Sam Blackwell, Jr., tells the story of the 12th Illinois Cavalry. The work is illuminated with the kind of detail that comes from personal visits to the battle sites and close attention to the documents. At every page there is evidence of a masterful grasp of the daily concerns of the men and their responsibilities in combat. The story covers the length of the Civil War. The 12th Illinois was fighting in 1862 and 1863 in Virginia and Maryland. They fought in the first engagement at Gettysburg. They finished the war and continued with their duties in 1865 in Texas.
While carefully documenting his facts, Blackwell still manages to communicate a sense of drama in the story. The siege at Harpers Ferry and the daring nighttime escape by 12th Illinois is the kind of adventure that makes history exciting. The description of the of Captains Mitchell and Houck discovering and then thoughtfully ignoring a freshly wounded confederate captain disguised as an old woman at home with his wife is heartwarming. Without comment Blackwell lets the men tell their stories. Charles Rose, for example, wrote to his father after they finished a raid searching for bushwhackers in Louisiana, that "every man got a silver 50- or 25-cent piece. Some got Meerschaum pipes, some splendid boots, clothing and razors," from captured soldiers.
As with all good writing, the details tell the story. Blackwell lets us discover the men, the horses, the weapons, the carnage, and the battlefield conditions where the 12th Illinois touched the war. Each reader must make his own assessment of the significance of the regiment, but most will gradually come to admire the 12th Illinois Cavalry.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Timothy Mccune on January 2, 2002
Format: Hardcover
It was my great pleasure as an Illinois native to read this very interesting and rare account of one of my home state units in action. Many important works on the Civil War have focused -- quite rightly -- on the actions of units raised in East and South, but this book chronicles a significant contribution made by this citizens of this state as the war dragged on.
The 12th Illinois Cavalry was a good selection of a unit to follow. Brought into action after illusions on both sides of a quick victory had vanished, the 12th made small but important contributions in actions ranging from Antietam to Gettysburg. Quite conscious of the reputation of Confederate cavalry units, the 12th eagerly proved itself against its battle-hardened opponents.
The book was researched meticulously mostly from primary sources. Secondary sources add color to the account, such as describing history and effectiveness of the Spencer and Burnside carbines. The writing is even and interesting, providing an enjoyable way to see much of the war through the perspective of this unit. A very good read and a great addition to any Civil War library.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Hal Swanson on February 22, 2002
Format: Hardcover
It had been traditional that a member of a military regiment take on the task of recording and writing a regimental history. With the passage of nearly one hundred and forty years since our nation was split in a civil war, it is apparent that one was not written for the 12th Illinois Cavalry. Or quite possibly such a journal may have been lost on the battle field. Sam Blackwell's book "In the First Line of Battle, The 12th Illinois Cavalry in the Civil War" is a credible resource with plenty of detail. It will become respected as a primary source for an authentic view of the U. S. Cavalry in the Civil War, and more particularly as a regimental record of the 12th Illinois Cavalry. The comprehensive bibliography is invaluable and supports the theme of this research.
It has been difficult to research and assemble information of an Ohio ancestor who fled Ohio to enlist in the Union forces in Illiniois. He served two terms of duty with the 12th Illinois Cavalry. Sam Blackwell Jr.'s book "In the First Line of Battle, The 12th Illinois Cavalry in the Civil War"is just what the doctor ordered. From the day of enlistment to the day of discharge, my ancestor's day to day history lies before me. I now sit at my desk, while following the sentences with one hand and a pen in the other hand, busily transcribing information and tracing movements of the 12th on a map of Virginia and Maryland. Events from military records obtained through the National Archives are supported "to the letter" by this book and are an now placed in a chronological order. "Between the lines" information is easily assimilated from the many pages filled with meaningful accounts of the 12th.
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