The Fifty-Eighth North Carolina Troops: Tar Heels in the Army of Tennessee
By Michael C. Hardy
McFarland Publishers, Jefferson, NC
Reviewed by Keith Jones
The Fifty-Eighth North Carolina Troops works hard to fill the gaps in the records of this reluctant regiment. Michael C. Hardy does yeoman’s work in assembling the scattered information into a cohesive regimental history. Unlike some unit histories, Hardy’s book provides more than dry encyclopedic facts. Instead he ties the detailed look at this intriguing infantry regiment into an entertaining narrative that takes you from the beginning of the war to the end, then on through the remainder of the lives of its soldiers eventually providing a study of their legacy and impact on Western North Carolina.
Filled with pictures and maps, this book provides more than just troop movements and battle reports. It makes a personal connection with the men who served from the top officers down to the individual privates. Gathered from newspapers, letters, diaries and other assorted personal reflections, Hardy adds flesh to the vast gaps in the official Confederate records of the Fifty-Eighth’s service in the Army of Tennessee.
While being one of the largest regiments from North Carolina, the Fifty-Eighth was largely constructed from conscripts. These were men whose decision to serve was forced on them. Sometimes at the point of a bayonet. Despite reluctance and a higher than normal desertion rate, the Fifty-Eighth was an important regiment that played a pivotal role in many of the campaigns in which they participated.
The Fifty-Eighth North Carolina Troops: Tar Heels in the Army of Tennessee is a well written and thoroughly researched book. It deserves a place amongst the collection of anybody wishing to learn more about North Carolina or the Army of Tennessee during the War for Southern Independence. Michael C. Hardy illustrates starkly the qualities which have won him multiple awards for his work.