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Those Damned Black Hats! The Iron Brigade in the Gettysburg Campaign Hardcover – September 1, 2008


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Savas Beatie; First Edition edition (September 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1932714480
  • ISBN-13: 978-1932714487
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #738,981 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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.

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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There is much here to learn and digest, and the reader will come away the better for reading this book.
David M. Dougherty
There are sufficient tactical details to make an understandable account without being bogged down and losing sight of the overall battle.
James W. Durney
The Iron Brigade (or the Black Hats) was one of the great fighting units of the Union Army of the Potomac.
Steven A. Peterson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Reed on November 6, 2008
Format: Hardcover
As a Civil War and history buff, I eagerly awaited Lance Herdegen's latest book. Herdegen continues to try and tell the individual stories of the men who fought in the Civil War, and placing those stories in the greater context of the struggle. With his reporter's eye for detail, the reader smells the dust of these men marching to Gettysburg, and the cold of the winter before Fredericksburg.

I was on a recent business trip and a colleague, who is not a history fan, asked if I had any books to help her read herself to sleep. I had just finished this tale of the Iron Brigade, and offered it to her. The next morning she complained that it did not help her to sleep; instead she was drawn by the individual stories of the men of the Iron Brigade.

So if you are a Civil War devotee, or just fascinated by the real stories of young men in a time of change, I would highly recommend this book.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By J.Clarke on October 12, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I have read so much on the heroic actions of the Iron Brigade at Gettysburg that I didn't think I could find much more that would be new to me. But Lance Herdegen has put together a fabulous work on this subject with "Those Damned Black Hats - The Iron Brigade in the Gettysburg Campaign".

Recollections taken from letters written by survivors of the Brigade help to recount the story of the brigade's gallant actions in the fields and wood lots west of Gettysburg on July 1st, as well as their minor contributions on the 2nd and 3rd on Culp's Hill. Many wartime photos of Iron Brigade soldiers and maps of the troops' positions help tell the story.

Interestingly, Herdegen includes a few chapters that deal with the brigade's actions during Grant's push into Virginia in 1864. I wasn't expecting this, as the book was to deal with the Gettysburg campaign only, so I thought. But these sections work seamlessly with the main focus of the book, as it helps the reader to follow the men who fought at Gettysburg through to the conclusion of the war.

The final chapters deal with the various Iron Brigade veterans associations and their reunions and meetings with former Confederate foes during visits to the field in their final years. I found these accounts very interesting indeed... and rather touching.

A fine addition to the library of all who are interested in The Iron Brigade and The Gettysburg Campaign in general.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By David Gramling on November 22, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Herdegen's "Those Damned Black Hats" is a powerful and moving story of the 2nd, 6th, 7th Wisc, 19th Indiana and 24th Michigan in the fighting of July 12-3 1863, Gettysburg. The book uses many previous unused primary sources which give the reader a much more human insight into the fighting solider of the Iron Brigade during this time. What I didn't realize was how the Black Hats came together with their foes in friendship at the Gettysburg reunions of 1903 and 1913. The book contains excellent maps and many previously unseen photos of the Black Hats. Also included is a list of all who registered at the Iron Brigade Tent during the 50th anniversary of the battle. The "Damned Black Hats" is well-written and 1st rate scholarship
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Martin Hunter on November 7, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Who knew that more could be written about the Iron Brigade at Gettysburg and that it could be done so well! Lance Herdegen follows the tall, tough, black-hatted Western soldiers of the Iron Brigade on the road to Gettysburg and beyond.

This is a story about people under unique circumstances during a unique time and their ability to rise to the occasion. It is not a story of massive, impersonal armies moving here and there, it is a story about what people experienced for a few hot days in July in a place they never heard of before.

This is not your average military history - it is better. Herdegen adds to the story of the Iron Brigade by using newly discovered primary documents - letters, diaries and more to deftly to create an eminently readable mix of social and military history done as no one else can.

These are the stories of raw young men, far from home, doing their duty as only the young men of that era could.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Norman A. Dykstra on November 11, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I'm always interested in a new book about the hard fighting Iron Brigade of the West and when it's written by Lance Herdegen, it doesn't get much better than that.

If you are just discovering this Union Brigade, you'll find a wealth of information in these pages. If you are not new to this Brigade and think you know all the stories - you'll enjoy this book, too. It brings all the well known stories, plus new ones, into one volume of easy reading. I, for one, am glad that Lance has given us a before, during and after look at this Western Brigade at Gettysburg, as their "history" is fascinating and bears repeating. The tales from the soldier reunions after the war gives a more complete picture of these men from the West who fought in the East.

This new book will be a welcome addition to anyone's Iron Brigade or Gettysburg library.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By William H. Perry on August 27, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am not going to snipe at the 2 star review. The reviewer is sincere, I presume, and his comments have a certain merit.

However, I found "Those Damned Black Hats" to be an excellent read, as well as serving an additional purpose I have not seen commented on yet. An immense amount of research has gone into this work by Mr. Herdegen and it shows. One of the reasons I found this work so enjoyable is that I have given tours at Gettysburg since I was 18 years old (I am 65 now), and Herdegen's book is a great gift to tour hosts! Take this book, read it, make notes, then walk the battlefield with your family and friends and you will see at once why works of this kind are so important. It is one thing to know all the facts, but it is something else to know about the pain. The next tour I give, God willing, I will use this book to put flesh on the currently manicured battle area for the first day's fighting.

One other comment. In my opinion, Savas Beatie is publishing the best line of Civil War books right now. Not from a technical standpoint, but from a content standpoint. I am aware of the typographical errors, but I don't let them get in the way of the content. A few typographical errors is a small price to pay for a steady stream of quality history.
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