Saturday, August 16, 2008

"The Iowa Northern Border Brigade"

The Iowa Northern Border Brigade (INBB) was a state militia unit formed in the immediate aftermath of the 1862 Dakota uprising in Minnesota [a subject of several previous posts - here, here, and here about various books covering it]. Far from a true brigade-sized organization, the INBB was composed of a handful of understrength companies that patrolled the NW Iowa frontier. The men also built and garrisoned a chain of fortifications that began near Sioux City and stretched in a roughly northeastern pattern all the way to the Iowa-Minnesota border. The government sponsored monograph The Iowa Northern Border Brigade by Marshall McKusick (Office of the State Archaeologist, 1976) is part unit history, part archaeological report. While data and analysis are not at the depth found in the best of today's unit studies, this three decades old book does address issues of personnel makeup, logistics, armament, and operations to a mostly satisfying degree. While the text itself is marred by poor editing, the flaws of presentation are redeemed by the amount of information presented about this near unknown Civil War mounted organization. McKusick's lengthy, minutely detailed descriptions of the forts lining the INBB's patrol area, along with the large number of photographs and maps, engineering drawings, and illustrations of these posts, increase the value of his study for the collector and esoteric obsessed Civil War reader. I liked it, others may not!

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