Reviewed by Richard A. Sauers
By John J. Fox III
Angle Valley Press, 472 pages
John J. Fox III became interested in the 35th Georgia in 1987, when he was shown a cache of unpublished letters written by a soldier in the regiment. Now, almost two decades after his curiosity was piqued, Fox has written one of the better modern-day regimental histories of a Confederate unit that has hitherto been largely ignored by historians.
The colonel of the 35th Georgia, Edward L. Thomas, was promoted to brigadier general and led his Georgia Brigade throughout the war, serving as part of Hill’s, then Pender’s, then Wilcox’s Light Division in the Army of Northern Virginia. The 35th saw action from Seven Pines (Fair Oaks) until the war’s end, when 136 of its officers and men surrendered at Appomattox. In between, the regiment fought in the Seven Days’ battles, Cedar Mountain, Second Manassas, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, the Wilderness, Spotsylvania and Petersburg, as well as participating in a score of other engagements. On April 2, 1865, as Union assaults swamped the Petersburg defenses, a portion of the 35th helped defend Fort Gregg.
After being bitten by the Civil War bug, Fox left no stone unturned in his search for information about the 35th Georgia and its sister regiments in Thomas’ Brigade. He used a plethora of unpublished letters and diaries found in public repositories, private collections, contemporary and postwar newspapers and published primary sources, as well as secondary studies. Throughout the book, Fox often lets the Georgians speak for themselves, quoting extensively from their letters and diaries.
Battle maps clearly show the relationship of the regiment to the larger combat in which it fought. Numerous illustrations of soldiers and relics accompany the text as well. The author has taken modern photos to show where the regiment was engaged with the Yankees. Camp French, the site of the regiment’s winter encampment in 1861-62, has been found, and an appendix of photos of excavated artifacts from that location is a great addition to the book. Included with the history is a regimental roster, organized by last name rather than company. In sum, this is an excellent history in which the author amassed a vast amount of information and used it to great advantage in telling the tale of a forgotten Georgia regiment.