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Confederates Sailors, Marines and Signalmen From Virginia and Maryland

by Robert J. Driver Jr., Heritage Books, Westminster, Md. (www.Heritage, 2007, 506 pages, $39.50.

Marine Lt. Col. Robert J. Driver Jr. (ret.) is the author of 10 volumes in the valuable Virginia Regimental History Series. His rosters in those unit histories were the result of exhaustive work in small cemeteries and historical societies, as well as tracking down descendants’ families. Driver evidently found that kind of work congenial, because he recently produced a similar work that traces the lives and records of nearly 5,000 Virginians and Marylanders who served in the Confederate Navy, Marine Corps and Signal Corps.

Admittedly, this is not a book one curls up with in front of a fire. Driver uses a mere eight pages to introduce the services, then launches 500 pages of individual roster entries. Endeavors of this sort, if diligently executed (as Driver has done again with this effort), are invaluable, however, because they provide a record of these important individuals’ time in uniform before the evidence is irretrievably lost.

Official service records are the core of each man’s entry, but Driver also tracked down life details on many—birth, death, occupation, etc. He also includes 159 photographs of his subjects, many of them in uniform. Some photos have appeared elsewhere, but many come from families or collectors and are printed here for the first time.

Despite its innocuous label, the Confederate States Signal Corps actually carried out the nascent country’s intelligence functions. Driver’s roster of that corps will fascinate the Civil War subculture enchanted by conspiracy theories concerning the Lincoln assassination and related topics.


Originally published in the April 2008 issue of Civil War Times. To subscribe, click here