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The Iron Brigade in Civil War and Memory: The Black Hats from Bull Run to Appomattox and Thereafter Hardcover – October 1, 2012


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 696 pages
  • Publisher: Savas Beatie; 1ST edition (October 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1611211069
  • ISBN-13: 978-1611211061
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #988,401 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Lance J. Herdegen is the award-winning author of several books on Civil War topics. His latest work, Those Damned Black Hats: The Iron Brigade in the Gettysburg Campaign, won the Army Historical Foundation's Distinguished Writing Award. Lance is the former director of the Institute for Civil War Studies at Carroll University and presently chairs the Wisconsin Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission. He was recently inducted into the Milwaukee Press Club's Hall of Fame and lives in Spring Prairie, Walworth County, Wisconsin.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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A very well written and researched book.
Gary L. Cavell
Trust me, if you are into Civil War history, this book is a must read.
StephenX
Unlike other Iron Brigade books, this one continues beyond Gettysburg.
James W. Durney

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Paul Johnson on October 12, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was introduced to the "Iron Brigade" about 15 years ago through Alan Nolan's ground breaking work published in the Centennial of the Civil War.

I've dug further into the brigade as I found I had ancestors who served in it.

Now in the Sesquicentennial of the war, Lance Herdegen's new work is a worthy successor to Nolan's efforts. First Herdegen follows the brigade past Gettysburg. Granted the brigade was never used after July 3 the way it had been used before, but it did continue not only to exist, but live up to it's fearsome reputation.

Three points I found interesting

First, Herdegen's treatment of the Battle of the Wilderness is one of the most concise accounts I've read about this battle.

Second his coinage of the phrase, "The boys of '61" is a concise way of showing how the war took its toll not only on the army, but on the home-front as well.

A third point the treatment of the potential McClellan coup d'etat which points out the enormous passions at work, not only between the waring factions, but within the Union itself.

Herdegen's use of first person accounts through out the book personalizes these men and the struggles they endured

This is a work that belongs on the shelves of any student of the Civil War
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By James W. Durney TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 13, 2012
Format: Hardcover
In 1957, John J. Pullen established a new template for Civil War regimental histories with "The 20th Maine".
This book, which has never gone out of print, changed the public's expectations about what these histories would be.
Lance J. Herdegen has done the same thing for brigade histories. This is the best brigade history I have ever read.
It is a perfect combination of history, personalities and battles with excellent scholarship throughout.

You can always find an argument about "best". Everyone has a candidate and many have strong feelings about the rightness of their claim.
During the Civil War, the Iron Brigade staked a very strong claim to "Best Brigade".

They made this claim, in blood, from Gainesville to Appomattox. The author tells the story in the present tense with all the confusion, blood and sacrifice it entails.
Battles are one of the strengths of the book. At Gainesville, the brigade's first battle, the author vividly captures earnest patriotism meeting the hard realities of battle.
The account of Iron Brigade's fight at Gettysburg is classic. This might be the most graphic and gripping account of the brigade's stand in print.
This is an experienced brigade with no illusions, badly outnumbered; they simply refuse to give way.

Unlike other Iron Brigade books, this one continues beyond Gettysburg. Badly depleted regiments struggle to maintain their identity.
New regiments change the character of the brigade. Draftees and bounty men create questions about their willingness to fight.
In 1864, the original regiments can muster out of service. There is an excellent account of the reenlistment process, the questions and reasons why some stayed as others went home.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Bill Locey on March 10, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Book Review: The Iron Brigade by First Sgt. Bill Locey
As the numerous 150th anniversary battle re-enactments takes place back east, it is clear the Civil War did not end in 1865. It continues into endless overtime and the rebs are wrong - ain't no halftime score - you lost, get over it. By day, I teach history in state prison, by night, I work for this darn fine newspaper and for 18 years, I've been a Civil War re-enactor and these days, a Yankee first sergeant in the 6th Wisconsin of the Iron Brigade. Lance Herdegen's new book explains why I and so many others put on a uniform and play old army one weekend a month and why those brave ``boys of '61'' should not be forgotten.
There's no better historian to tell their story than Lance Herdegen, a man who has already written plenty about the Black Hats. His latest is the crowning achievement of a lifetime of study, ``The Iron Brigade in Civil War and Memory: The Black Hats From Bull Run to Appomattox and Thereafter.''
In 1861, the South started the Civil War and four years and more than 600,000 dead Americans later, the North finally finished it. Among the best finishers for the boys in blue were the Westerners of the Iron Brigade, earning a name that implied hard times and tough men who did the math and paid the price. As the bad asses of the Army of the Potomac, the Black Hats suffered a greater percentage of casualties than any other brigade in the entire Union army, fighting the best the South had, Robert E. Lee's legendary Army of Northern Virginia. Without the valor of the Iron Brigade on the first day of Gettysburg on July 1, 1863, we'd all be saying ``y'all'' about now.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Steven A. Peterson TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 24, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have previously read two good books focusing on the Army of the Potomac's Iron Brigade (the First Brigade of the First Division of the First Corps at Gettysburg--a designation that filled many of the Black Hats with pride). One, by Nolan, is the classic. The other, a comparative work examining the Iron Brigade and the Stonewall Brigade (of the Confederacy).

This book had access to more records and sources than Nolan's. Thus, the volume has more depth. Also, Nolan's work (and others') tend to focus on the unit up until the battle of Gettysburg--with much less coverage thereafter. This book makes a terrific contribution by considering in detail the role of the remnants of the Brigade after Gettysburg to Appomattox Court House.

The Iron Brigade, originally, consisted of four regiments--three from Wisconsin (2nd, 6th, and 7th Regiments) and one from Indiana (the 19th Regiment). After the Brigade was decimated by Brawner's Farm (at Second Manassas), where they stood toe to toe with the Stonewall Brigade and gave as well as they got, South Mountain, and Antietam, the original brigades had the 24th Michigan added to the Brigade. The soldiers all took pride in being a "Western" outfit--the only fully Western brigade in the Army of the Potomac.

They were called the Black Hats when they began to wear the tall Hardee hats. Originally, called the Black Hat Brigade, they became known as the Iron Brigade, apparently as a result of their valor at South Mountain, just before the battle at Antietam.

The point at which most volumes slow done is Gettysburg. The Iron Brigade arrived at a critical moment and stopped cold an assault by a brigade from the Army of Northern Virginia.
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More About the Author

Lance J. Herdegen's latest work is "The Iron Brigade in Civil War and Memory: The Black Hats from Bull Run to Appomattox and Thereafter." His previous book, "Those Damned Black Hats! The Iron Brigade in the Gettysburg Campaign" (Savas Beatie, 2008), won an Army Historical Foundation Distinguished Writing Award. He is former Director of the Institute for Civil War Studies at Carroll University and presently works as historical consultant for the Civil War Museum of the Upper Middle West at Kenosha, Wisconsin, and as a lecturer in the Carroll History Department.
"I was drawn to the Civil War when my father brought home a rifle-musket he found while helping a neighbor cleanout a shed. I was totally entranced and I began to read everything I could find on the 1861-1865 period. As a true son of Wisconsin, it is difficult to escape not being interested in the Iron Brigade even though my own distant kinsman was killed with the 14th Wisconsin at Shiloh. One of the first books I discovered was Rufus Dawes' "Service with the Sixth Wisconsin Volunteers." I also met Alan Nolan while in college and he was writing his powerful book on the Iron Brigade which appeared in 1961. I had some material I gave him and he encouraged me as well by giving me some of his research. It led to a lifelong friendship and I miss him since his passing. I only wish he would have had a chance to read my latest work on the Iron Brigade in the Gettysburg campaign. It would have led to wonderful discussions and challenges about my conclusions.
"Besides some new and important primary source material, I think the Gettysburg book is colored by my background. I was a reporter for the United Press International wire service most of my adult life. As a result, I am sure I am influenced by the events I covered during the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. As a reporter, I tend to be generally distrustful of official materials. I am not interested in looking at events from the top down. However, I am interested in looking at events from the ranks up. It is a very different view. Reports that the Army of the Potomac was short on supplies do not match an account of a hungry private soldier chasing a cow in a field to get a canteen full of milk. A professor of mine at Marquette University, Dr. Frank Klement, who wrote four good books on the Civil War, said he believed that reporters always got the first chance to write history. I guess what I am doing now is just an extension of my earlier UPI work. When I start writing about a battle or incident from the Civil War, I pretty much let the actual sources take me where they will."
Included among his other honors are: The Harry S. Truman Award of the Civil War Round Table of Kansas City; The Award of Merit, State Historical Society of Wisconsin; The Gambrinus Prize, Milwaukee County Historical Society, and the Service Award of The Civil War Round Table of Milwaukee.
He lives in Walworth County, Wisconsin.

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