Preview: Cameron, “Tar Heels in Gray”

2 05 2023

A 2021 release from McFarland & Company is Tar Heels in Gray: Life in the 30th North Carolina Infantry in the Civil War, by the late John B. Cameron. This is an interesting work, akin to Joseph Glatthaar’s Soldiering in the Army of Northern Virginia, with lots of statistics digging into the makeup of the regiment. In fact, some of the many tables in the book compare the author’s findings in the micro to Glatthaar’s in the macro. From the jacket:

The 30th North Carolina Infantry was involved in most of the major battles in Virginia from the Seven Days through the surrender at Appomattox, and saw some of the bloodiest fighting of the American Civil War. Two-thirds of these men volunteered early; the others were enlisted at the point of a bayonet. Their casualty rate was high, the rate of death from disease was higher and the desertion and AWOL rate was higher still. What was the war actually like for these men? What was their economic status? To what extent were they involved in the institution of slavery? What were their lives like in the Army? What did they believe they were fighting for and did those views change over time? This book answers those questions and depicts Civil War soldiers as they were, rather than as appendages to famous generals or symbols of myth. It focuses on the realities of the men themselves, not their battles. In addition to the author’s personal collection of letters and other contemporary records, it draws upon newly discovered letters, diaries, memoirs, census records, and published works.

What you get:

  • 138 pages of text, in 10 chapters, a preface, an intro, a conclusion, and an appendix. The chapters are broken down by topic. The history is not chronological.
  • 23 pages of endnotes
  • Full bibliography including unpublished and archival sources.
  • Index
  • Numerous tables and graphs