The purpose of this blog is to describe the events, places, and personalities that impacted the Twenty-Sixth North Carolina Infantry during the course of its service between 1861 and 1865.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Welcome to Journeys With The Twenty-Sixth North Carolina Infantry

For the first post of this newly created blog I wanted to take a bit of time to tell a bit about myself, why I created this blog, and why I am writing my upcoming book The 26th North Carolina Infantry, 1861-1865: A Regimental History.

As for myself, I was born and raised in North Carolina and spent most of my life living in the eastern portion of the state. At the age of six on a trip with my family I would have an experience that ultimately changed my life and the direction it would take: I visited the battlefield at Gettysburg. From that point on I developed and cultivated a lifelong interest in the Civil War. Later, I attended East Carolina University (Go Pirates!) and after a few years of working in politics I decided to follow my true passion by moving to Gettysburg in 2008. In 2009, I formed Ten Roads Publishing along with my friend Jim Glessner. My first book Fight As Long As Possible: The Battle of Newport Barracks, North Carolina, February 2, 1864 was published in June of last year and for the past three years I have been working on the research for my book on the 26th North Carolina.

When I was researching and writing my first book I decided to create a blog for the purpose of creating a place online where I could post information on the Battle of Newport Barracks (The Newport Barracks). The end result of the blog was better than anything I could have imagined as individuals reached out to me with information they had (including a few descendants of soldiers engaged in the battle). Of course the time frame I was dealing with in my first book was much shorter than what I am dealing with now, but my hopes for the blog remain the same. I intend to use this blog as a means to describe the various places I have visited during the course of my research into the 26th North Carolina. The set up of each blog post will be fairly similar with a description of what occurred at the place featured, a few accounts from the men of the 26th North Carolina about what happened, modern photos of the site today (along with 19th century or early 20th century photos if they exist), and directions for those interested in visiting. Along with this I will feature updates on the progress of my book and other information that relates to the regiment such as profiles of members of the 26th North Carolina and their experiences during the war.

The 26th North Carolina is arguably one of the most well-known regiments that served from North Carolina during the war, and on either side for that matter. As a result quite a bit has already been written on the regiment. Two of the three men who served as colonel of the regiment have full length biographies written on them. Zebulon B. Vance has three notable biographies written on his life (Clement Dowd's Life of Zebulon B. Vance [1897], Glenn Tucker's Zeb Vance: Champion of Personal Freedom [1966], and Gordon B. McKinney's Zeb Vance: North Carolina's Civil War Governor and Guilded Age Political Leader [2004] ) and Henry King Burgwyn was the subject of 1985's Boy Colonel of the Confederacy by Archie K. Davis. The role the regiment played in the Gettysburg Campaign was covered in Rod Gragg's Covered With Glory (2000) and the brigade that the 26th North Carolina is most associated with (The Pettigrew-Kirkland-MacRae Brigade) was been chronicled by Earl J. Hess in his excellent book Lee's Tar Heels (2001). Even the story of the 26th North Carolina's regimental band has been told with A Johnny Reb Band from Salem (2006) by Harry H. Hall.

This begs the natural question why if so much has been written should another book on the regiment be written more less published. Well the answer to that is quite easy. Despite the volume of literature on the various aspects of the regiment's history and its leaders, there still remains one glaring omission: a full length regimental history. The closest we have to such a work was written by George W. Underwood with his History of the Twenty-Sixth Regiment of North Carolina Troops in the Great War, 1861-1865. Underwood served as the assistant surgeon of the regiment and later wrote this history of the 26th North Carolina in 1901. In more recent memory, David McGee has written a general history of the regiment's service based on his master's thesis which can be found here. While a good overview of the regiment's history, it would be difficult to list the work as a full length regimental history in the same vain as more recent works on Union and Confederate regiments.

So how is my book different than what has come before? For one the basis of my work is over 700 primary source documents (including as of June 2011, 642 letter and diary entries written by members of the 26th North Carolina). Along with this extensive foundation of primary source material, I have gleaned as much as possible from secondary sources which helps to add context to the words from the soldiers themselves. In addition to this, extensive field research has been conducted (the results will add much of the content to this blog). Finally, what I think will further help this book stand apart is the "Socio-Military Profile of the 26th North Carolina" that I am developing for this project. Using troop roster and census data, I am creating a database of sociological and military statistics that will give us a window into the lives of the men (and as far as we know one woman) of the 26th North Carolina as civilians and soliders.

I feel that a regimental history must be as much social history as it is military history, and that the two sides of that history go hand in hand. It is my desire that the final product of this book will meet that criteria by giving the reader insight into what life was like for the officers and enlisted men in the ranks, along with detailing the campaigns and battles in which the regiment was a part of, along with placing their lives and the events that impacted them within the context of their society and history.

Even though I am well into the research and writing phase, I am always interested in any letters/and or diaries from men of the 26th North Carolina or that pertain to them that may still reside in private collections or in the possession of families. Also of interest is any photographs or family history/traditions that involve men of the regiment. If you have any of this or know of someone who does please contact me via email at Any information used in the book will be given full credit and attribution.

The second post to the blog will discuss briefly the formation of the companies of the regiment and the counties in North Carolina where they were raised. The third post will focus on the role of the regiment on July 3, 1863 at Gettysburg.

With all that said the release date for this book will be June 2013, but in the meantime I hope you will enjoy following in the footsteps of the 26th North Carolina as much as I have. It has truly been a wonderful and humbling experience for this historian to do so.

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