Written and first published in 1866 soon after the author's discharge from the Union army, A. F. Sperry's History of the 33d Iowa Infantry is one of the classic regimental histories of the American Civil War. It is a fresh, honest, and detailed account of the regiment's movements and actionsin Kentucky, Mississippi, Alabama, Texas, and, most notably, Arkansas, where it played a conspicuous role in the Helena, Little Rock, and Camden campaigns.
As the regiment's fife and drum major responsible for sounding the duty calls that regulated a soldier's day, Sperry was well situated to observe the inner workings of his unit. His perceptive narrative of army life on the march and in camp captures the courage, humor, and sufferings of the rank and file. Although he took pride in his regiment's accomplishments, he unflinchingly reveals the hard side of war with vivid depictions of looting, resistance to orders, and "extermination" of Confederate guerrillas.
By itself, Sperry's memoir is remarkable and important. It is made even more valuable by the new introduction and detailed notes from the editors. Their meticulous annotations include quotes from the diaries, letters, and reminiscences of other soldiers, adding depth and detail to the account. Seven maps and thirty-seven never-before-published photographs of 33d Iowa personnel taken during the war further enrich the book. Civil War historians and reenactors everywhere will welcome this important new classic.
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Gregory J. W. Urwin is a prize-winning military scholar who has published seven books including Facing Fearful Odds: The Siege of Wake Island (University of Nebraska Press, 1997). He is a field officer in the Frontier Brigade, the largest Union reenactment unit west of the Mississippi River.
Cathy Kunzinger Urwin has published Agenda for Reform: Winthrop Rockefeller as Governor of Arkansas, 19671971 (University of Arkansas Press, 1994).