HUGHES: Confederate Soldiers in the American Civil War (2019)

Confederate Soldiers in the American Civil War: Facts and Photos for Readers of All Ages by Mark Hughes. Savas Beatie, 2019. Paper, IBSN: 978-1611213416. $15.95.

Savas Beatie has continued to solidify its reputation as a premier military and general history publishing company by adding Mark Hughes’s Confederate Soldiers in the American Civil War: Facts and Photos for Readers of All Ages to its ever-growing and impressive collection of Civil War titles.

Hughes, a native of Cleveland, Ohio, who spent most of his life in North Carolina, is a retired college electronics instructor/department head and an enthusiastic Civil War researcher and writer. His desire for digging up the forgotten stories of Civil War soldiers has led to five other books over the last thirteen years: The New Civil War Handbook: Facts and Photos for Readers of All AgesConfederate Cemeteries (2 vols.), The Unpublished Roll of Honor, and Bivouac of the Dead.

The influence of William H. Price’s 1961 Civil War Handbook—a gallery of captivating photographs with detailed captions, statistics, and other material—is apparent. Price’s was the first book that Hughes purchased at the age of ten, and it has left an impression on him ever since.

Serious scholars shouldn’t be dissuaded by Hughes’s subtitle: “Facts and Photos for Readers of All Ages”. Regardless of your knowledge on the Civil War, there is something of interest for all readers in this handy little book.

Don’t let the size of the book deceive you, either. Its 159 pages teem with facts and photographs, providing readers with a well-rounded and engaging view of the Confederate soldier. Hughes also incorporates two interesting chapters worth mentioning: “Researching Your Confederate Ancestor” and “Civil War Points of Interest.”

By far the most striking element of the book is the gallery of Confederate soldiers (arranged by state). Each photograph is accompanied by a caption describing the soldier’s service record during the war.

There are more than eight rare photographs of Confederate soldiers from various backgrounds, ages, and social ranks. It consists of such figures as the Duvall brothers—David (19 years old), Thomas (21 years old), and William (25 years old)—from Missouri, all three of whom were killed during the war; the author’s great-great-grandfather, Andrew Jackson Hughes of the 12th North Carolina Infantry, seriously wounded in the arm at Spotsylvania; the 16-year-old twin brothers, John and William Savage, who ran off to enlist in a Virginian light artillery company without their mother’s consent; and even an Osage Warrior.

Hughes is frank when he admits that this book isn’t a hagiography of the Confederate soldier. “These soldiers were not all heroes,” Hughes notes at the beginning of the chapter. “At least one was a thief and several went AWOL.”

This short but comprehensive guide on the Confederate soldier should be added to every Civil War enthusiast’s bookshelf.
Frank Jastrzembski studied history at John Carroll University and Cleveland State University. He is a regular contributor to Emerging Civil War.

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