- Hardcover: 528 pages
- Publisher: Hearthside Pub Co; 2nd Printing edition (June 1997)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0965098702
- ISBN-13: 978-0965098700
- Product Dimensions: 10.4 x 7.2 x 1.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #864,673 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Valor in Gray: The Recipients of the Confederate Medal of Honor 2nd Printing Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
There is a foreword by Captain Thomas G. Kelley, United States Navy, who recieved the Medal of Honor in 1969. Towards the end of it, Captain Kelley wrote, "you don't have to be a war hero to be a hero in life."
I believe that very much to be true.
I was unfamiliar with the Confederate Medal of Honor before reading this book. While plenty of information is provided on it and most of all its recipients, I still find myself confused. Was this CMOH intended to be a parallel to the United States' Medal of Honor? If so, the CSA had a rather awkward redunancy in the fact that the better-known Southern Cross of Honor had been created as a parallel to the Medal of Honor. It doesn't at all help the situation that the United Daughters of the Confederacy have in much more recent years than 1861 sort of reached back in time and started flinging Southern Crosses of Honor at anything Confederate they see. Doesn't matter if your Confederate ancestor was a quartermaster miles from the lines all throughout the war or was a company commander who died charging a hill with his men. Both of them can have a SCOH on their graves. And while it's great that folks want to award something to those who fought for the CSA, think about if it suddenly became legal to start handing out the Victoria Cross to every British soldier, ever. Or doing the same thing with the Medal of Honor, which was just recently awarded for the first time in many years to a living recipient. I am quite sure that cheapening the VC or the MOH through such an act would annoy a lot of people. But why is it okay to fling the Confederacy's obscure medals of valor about like pennies? And I must confess, to this day I don't quite understand how the Confederate Medal of Honor, the subject decoration of this book, fits into this.
Now, one thing that really complicated decorating acts of valor in the Confederate armed forces was that the system for awarding what few decorations there were was severely underdeveloped. Who was going to accurately record these acts of extreme gallantry, talking to various witnesses? Who, in a country that needed every scrap of metal it could find for guns, cannons, and bullets was going to design a fitting medal for acts of extreme valor under fire and mint enough for all who were given one? What the Confederate government ultimately did was let the men award medals to themselves, more or less, voting for men to be decorated. As a result, while many if not all of those who were enthusiastically voted for recognition by their comrades no doubt deserved such praise, little record was kept in many cases of just what these men did, where, and when. The story was similar on the Union side of the fence- in contrast to the long and highly detailed citations for Medal of Honor recipients of today, many Civil War Medal of Honor citations have only a vague sentence of two if there is even a citation at all.
But maybe I'm focusing too much on the wrong things. What I addressed in the previous two paragraphs are some things I believe do deserve attention, but shouldn't be the exclusive focus of a review on such a book as this.
What should be focused on, the bottom line about this book, is this- these stories are real. Described in rich detail, each chapter focuses on the stunning gallantry of one man in the face of tremendous adversity. Like recipients of the Medal of Honor and the Victoria Cross, these men all have something in common: regardless of where they were from, what background and upbringing they had or any other such detail, there is something distinctly special about them. Yet they seem so ordinary, as well, for from Private Benjamin Owens to Captain John Mosby, not one of the CMOH recipients in this book bragged or boasted much at all. It seems to be a hallmark of soldiers who go so far above and beyond their normal duties. Each one of them seems to have had no interest in posturing or otherwise making any effort to show how big and important they were.
An example- Private William A. Hughes recieved the Confederate Medal of Honor for actions at the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain on June 27, 1864. While already engaged in close quarters fighting with Union soldiers, he noticed a fellow soldier about to be shot at point-blank range. Hughes rushed over to his comrades' attackers and literally grabbed the Union soldier's gun barrel and, pointing it at himself, took the shot instead. Private Hughes died three days later, but there is no indication that he ever regretted what he chose to do.
Such men as these have no need to prove anything to anyone.
This book is absolutely amazing. It is an outstanding book, one of the best I've ever read. And as if the long, highly detailed stories and citations were not enough, there are further descriptions of other medals the CSA awarded and an inclusion of the Confederate Roll of Honor, which lists recipients from various battles by their unit, such as the four men in the 8th Regiment of Infantry who were cited for acts of valor at the Battle of Williamsburg on May 5, 1862. The various medals described are: Southern Cross of Honor, Texas Gold Star, General Nathan Evans Medal, Immortal 600 Medal, President's Guard Medal, The Stonewall Jackson Medal, Davis Guard Medal, New Market Cross of Honor, and the Taylor, Anderson, Tod Star Badge.
This book, if you are unsure, does not make any effort to prove anything about the Confederacy, for or against it. I don't remember any note about Civil War politics, which almost always come up in discussions of the Confederacy, being made at all. What would politics matter here, anyway? When you meet a Victoria Cross recipient, you don't ask him if he thinks Jeremy Clarkson should be Prime Minister. Maybe you ask him something about his story, or maybe you just say "Thank you" and go on your way. Recipients of the Confederate Medal of Honor surely had their views on political issues of the time. Everyone does. What matters most of all is that the men whose stories are told in this book were there when the Confederate States of America needed them most, and that they were willing to do their duty regardless of what it cost them.
Author's research is well documented.
Any history buff or just interested party in life and times would enjoy this book.
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