Thursday, February 19, 2009

Kirk: "Sul Ross' Sixth Texas Cavalry: Six-Shooters & Bowie Knives"

[Sul Ross' Sixth Texas Cavalry: Six-Shooters & Bowie Knives by Stephen S. Kirk (Two Trails Publishing, 2008) Softcover, notes, detailed roster, bibliography, index. Pages main/total: 361/394 ISBN: 978-1-929311-16-3 $23.95* ]

Beginning its Civil War service at Camp Bartow in September 1861, the 6th Texas Cavalry later built a distinguished combat record in campaigns conducted throughout the Trans-Mississippi and western theaters. The men fought in the Indian Territory and at Pea Ridge, Arkansas before being ordered across the Mississippi River. The 6th (brigaded with fellow Texans from the 3rd and 9th regiments) participated in the Corinth Campaign, the Battle of Thompson's Station, the raid on Holly Springs, and in the lengthy defense of Vicksburg. After the fall of the Hill City, the Texans remained in Mississippi for a time before being called to serve in the Atlanta Campaign and John Bell Hood's disastrous Tennessee Campaign. Subsequently attached to Richard Taylor's department, the unit ultimately surrendered in May 1865.

Stephen Kirk's study Sul Ross' Sixth Texas Cavalry is a combined history and roster. The 116 pages of main text are not a traditional narrative account of the regiment's service, but rather a compilation of extensive excerpts from various primary and secondary source materials, with brief narrative transitions provided by the author. As such, a comprehensive analytic approach to the unit's wartime service is not employed. Instead, the text presents a personalized picture of matters of pressing importance to the men of the regiment, things like equipment and supply problems, internal command conflicts, and desertion.

What is truly impressive about the book is the extensive roster, over 230 pages of detailed information about the officers and men of the 6th Texas Cavalry. Subdivided by company, an officer list is provided as well as a chronicling of the unit's various deployments. The combined roster (officers, NCOs, and enlisted men) was constructed from a variety of sources -- census data, POW and pension records, and other government documents as well as county histories, letters, diaries, etc. While anywhere from a few lines to half a page is devoted to each individual, the typical entry contains far more information than that found in the typical regimental roster. Mr. Kirk has uncovered and organized a wealth of material that should be of great use to researchers and genealogists interested in Texas Confederate units as well as the campaigns of the western and Trans-Mississippi theaters.

* - The book has no website, so I'll include the ordering information here. The cost of the book is $23.95, and there is a $4.80 shipping charge. Institutions may order the book by sending or emailing a purchase order to Stephen S.Kirk, 4414 West 111th Terrace, Leawood, Kansas 66211. Others may order by sending a personal check or money order to the same address.

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