Help support TMP

"Reading ACW is harder then reading Napoleoincs" Topic

36 Posts

All members in good standing are free to post here. Opinions expressed here are solely those of the posters, and have not been cleared with nor are they endorsed by The Miniatures Page.

For more information, see the TMP FAQ.

Back to the ACW Media Message Board

1,159 hits since 9 Feb 2012
©1994-2016 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

Gunfreak Supporting Member of TMP09 Feb 2012 7:08 a.m. PST

So when reading napoleonics it's quite easy, if you read 13th legere, you are quite sure it's a french regiment, when you read Clouztiwz you can bet on him beeing german ect.

But with the ACW, you never know which side they are on, just by the name of the unit or name of the soldier or officer.

I think all southern states gave alteast one regiment to the union exept alabama? So when you read 14th Tenesee you don't really know which side it's on, When you read Cpt. John Reed, you have no idea which side you are on.

I'm reading Edward Cunningham's Shiloh, and at thimes that auther just list half a dozen units and commanders, and if you don't pay full attention you might get lost in all the names and units.

Personal logo Cheriton Supporting Member of TMP09 Feb 2012 7:27 a.m. PST

if you don't pay full attention you might get lost in all the names and units.

A problem with civil wars in general, the ECW raises the same sort of problems. Took years of reading in both periods before the old brain retained sufficient "connects" to enable the reading to flow without constant flipping pages back and forth…


rusty musket Inactive Member09 Feb 2012 7:46 a.m. PST

Yes, I take it for granted being an American who has read about it since grade school, but it can be confusing. Now that I am older, I found myself from time to time loosing track of who is which. I muddle through and come out the other side OK.

avidgamer Inactive Member09 Feb 2012 7:56 a.m. PST

Errr… I've never had that problem.

boy wundyr x Supporting Member of TMP09 Feb 2012 8:02 a.m. PST

I had a general history of the ACW that I eventually gave up reading for that reason, the author seemed almost to be going out of his way to make it challenging to figure out who was who.

There's a simple solution for this too, just italicize one side's unit names.


79thPA Supporting Member of TMP09 Feb 2012 8:03 a.m. PST

That is probably a universal problem when reading about civil wars.

Sundance Supporting Member of TMP09 Feb 2012 8:09 a.m. PST

Typically, though not always, a unit named for a southern state would be on the CSA side, and a unit named for a northern state would be on the Union side. There were some notable exceptions, though. And no, there was at least one Alabama unit on the Union side as well.

MajorB Supporting Member of TMP09 Feb 2012 8:10 a.m. PST

So when you read 14th Tenesee you don't really know which side it's on,

I can't imagine any situation in the civil war where a regiment from Tennessee would fight for the Union.

twowheatons Inactive Member09 Feb 2012 8:15 a.m. PST

Sorry, Alabama did raise some troops for the Union. :(

Like Rusty Musket, I take it for granted. However, I can see the problem if someone has not been studying the ACW all that long.

kiltboy09 Feb 2012 8:18 a.m. PST

Then there is the Orphan brigade from Kentucky.

Two brigades were formed before the state decided which side it was on so the CSA formation had no state to supply it when KY declared for the Union.

Interesting formation comanded by a former Vice President of the US.


twowheatons Inactive Member09 Feb 2012 8:19 a.m. PST

Margard – Here's a link to Union Tennessee units – link

MajorB Supporting Member of TMP09 Feb 2012 8:30 a.m. PST

Well I'm bleeped. I never knew that …

john lacour09 Feb 2012 8:41 a.m. PST

can't say i've ever had this problem, either. i have read some books on late war battles where southern state regiments were on the union orbat, but i can't think of an instance where it was'nt denote,ie: the 8th miss. regiment(u.s.)

Gunfreak Supporting Member of TMP09 Feb 2012 8:46 a.m. PST

Thats my problem, I don't remember which, but I remember reading that only one souther state did not give regiments to the uniion, I don't remember which, mabye it was texas.

But that means, espesaly in the west, they both sides had regiments from the southern states, and that gets very confusing.

While I remember most of the divisjon commander and which side they are on, it gets very tricky when you get down to colonels below, after all some random colonel in some random southern or northern regiment isn't exactly a name most people would remember, least of all a captain from one of the companies of said regiment.

It gets really confusing, like you read about Captain richards, ok, but who the well is captain richard, you don't know which side he is on, before you read that a union cannon ball took of his legg, first then you can guess at that he was probebly confederat.

Frederick Supporting Member of TMP09 Feb 2012 9:22 a.m. PST

It is much easier reading ACW stuff if grew up in North America

In addition to the units (I am not sure there were too many Georgia units in the Union army, but there was one with a South Carolina name) many of the officers have similar family names – in fact, there are families with brothers on different sides!

Wolverine Inactive Member09 Feb 2012 9:31 a.m. PST

Like avidgamer, I've never had that problem. Most authers will indicate which side the regiment fought for if there is any confusion. For example "8th Tennessee Infantry (US)" or "1st Arkansas (Union)".

doc mcb09 Feb 2012 9:33 a.m. PST

Margard, Tennessee split (still does) east and west. The western hillbillies tended pro-Union, mostly out of animosity towards the wealthy planters in the lowlands. Knoxville was strongly pro-Union. Remember that Andrew Johnson, Lincoln's second VP and successor, was a Unionist from Tennessee. (Lincoln wanted to make the point that it was not a war of north versus south,, but to preserve the Union.)

doc mcb09 Feb 2012 9:38 a.m. PST

I've also had the experience, teaching US history to a class that included foreign students, to say something like "Lee's invasion of the north ended at Gettysburg. On the first day the Confederates drove the Union troops back to Cemetery Hill, but the Yankees dug in, and on the second day the Rebels failed to turn the Federal's left flank. The battle ended with a massive Southern charge, which the bluecoats repelled, leaving the valley carpeted with grey-clad bodies."

And the kids say "WHAT!?! How many sides were there in this war? And I say, "Two."

If you don't grow up with, it isn't all that easy. And with the sorry state of history teaching in many schools, even home-grown kids often have little idea. I did a class using miniatures on the Civil War at Orchard Knob School here in Chattanooga, literally on a battlefield with monuments and cannons visible out the window, and some kid asked "which ones are the British?"

Personal logo zippyfusenet Supporting Member of TMP09 Feb 2012 10:57 a.m. PST

Gunfreak, the Spanish had regiments on both sides of the Napoleonic Wars, likewise the Belgians, Nassauers, Bavarians, Saxons and many others, often the same units on opposite sides at different stages of the wars. You just have to get familiar enough with the subject to tell the players apart without a scorecard.

The ACW was a big, long war, with many exceptions and exceptions to the exceptions, but…

In general, the Federal regiments raised from southern states weren't available until mid- to late-war; they were raised from Union occupied (or liberated, if you prefer) territory. Many were 'colored' regiments, raised from former slaves, such as the 1st South Carolina and the Louisiana Native Guard. In regions where there was a significant loyalist population, such as East Tennessee and West Virginia, white regiments were raised.

So there were no southern Federals at Shiloh in the spring of 1862. It was too early for them.

I'll admit that it's easier for a native English speaker to tell the sides apart by their accents. If Captain Felcher addresses his men a "Y'all", he's a southerner. If as "All of you men", he's a northerner. If as "Y'ins", he's from Pennsyltucky.

MahanMan Inactive Member09 Feb 2012 11:17 a.m. PST

Don't forget the plethora of uniforms that caused such amazing confusion.

Also, there were a *lot* more accents than just the homogenized ones we have today, Z grin; I mean, look at all the durned furriners there were in the various regiments!

Gunfreak Supporting Member of TMP09 Feb 2012 11:49 a.m. PST

"So there were no southern Federals at Shiloh in the spring of 1862. It was too early for them.

Actualy from looking at the oob, there was a bunch of Kentuckien on both sides, weather you would call them "southern" or not is another question

Personal logo zippyfusenet Supporting Member of TMP09 Feb 2012 11:56 a.m. PST

Good point about the Kaintucks, Gunny. Exceptions to the exceptions.

Point taken about the accents, Mahan. Mark Twain is great reading for 19th century American accents.

twowheatons Inactive Member09 Feb 2012 12:53 p.m. PST

By 1862 in the east at least two regiments from the same state were active on both side, the 1st Maryland Us and CS. From Wikipedia:

The battle (Front Royal) is notable in that the 1st Maryland CSA was thrown into battle with their fellow Marylanders, the Union 1st Maryland Regiment.,[4] the only time in United States military history that two regiments of the same numerical designation and from the same state have engaged each other in battle. On the day of the battle Captain William Goldsborough of the 1st Maryland Infantry, CSA captured his brother Charles Goldsborough of the 1st Maryland Infantry, USA, and took him prisoner.[5]

walkabout09 Feb 2012 2:12 p.m. PST

According to the site twowheatons gave, every Confederate state had at least one regiment fighting for the Union. link Georgia and Virginia had only one Union Regiment and Florida had two.

Major Mike09 Feb 2012 2:13 p.m. PST

<<So there were no southern Federals at Shiloh in the spring of 1862. It was too early for them.>>

We had a local fellow (TN) that was in a locally raised unit that was sent up to Ft. Donelson for the CSA. They never left the ship as the position was going to be surrendered. His unit returned to Nashville where everyone made their way home until something else came up. That Spring he heard that there were Union troops and ships moving on the Tennessee River. He went to have a looksee and after hearing that Union soldiers got nice new uniforms, a rifle and pay (which was more that he ever got from his CSA service) he joined up. He fought at Shilo and was captured. At Corinth, MS he noticed some of his fellow CSA soldiers and demanded they go fetch the Captain to get him out of the prisoner stockade. They did and he was tried for treason and sentenced to death. Many of the soldiers were not happy with the decision and may very well not have carried out the duties of the firing squad, except our luckless hero for his last words decided to state that he fired his cartridge box empty killing as many rebels as he could and would have shot more if he had more rounds. The firing squad had no trouble preforming their duty.

As an aside, IIRC the US 28th Infantry split at the beginning of the war and did encounter itself on the battlefield.

Personal logo Tacitus Supporting Member of TMP09 Feb 2012 3:43 p.m. PST

Cool info. This is TMP at its best. Just to add to the confusion, Pennsylvania fielded California Regiments with no Californians.

Sudwind09 Feb 2012 7:12 p.m. PST

Riduculous. The accounts I have read are quite clear and I have an extensive ACW library. Napoleonics is less clear, especially when units from various obscure duchies and principalities fought on both sides of rapidly shifting alliances.

DJCoaltrain09 Feb 2012 7:32 p.m. PST

I find myself in the unusual position of not having a problem when reading ECW, ACW, or Napoleonic books/articles. Perhaps because I've been reading these accounts for so darn long I've been able to retain enough to hang onto the contexts and connections. Now, IIRC, there was one Nobleman of the English, Irish, Scots Civil Wars of the mid-late 1600s, who changed sides a remarkable three times. I cannot recall his name at this time. That's the advantage of being a geezer and having been around long enough to have known a time before Doris Day became America's favorite virgin. ;-)

Steelback Inactive Member10 Feb 2012 5:57 a.m. PST


The threads on TMP are getting stranger and stranger…..


Personal logo Cheriton Supporting Member of TMP10 Feb 2012 6:54 a.m. PST

The threads on TMP are getting stranger and stranger…..

True, but the original question was thought-provoking. The evolution of the the discussion, well…


Ed Mohrmann Supporting Member of TMP10 Feb 2012 7:40 a.m. PST

Just to add to the confusion, Pennsylvania fielded California Regiments with no Californians.

And adding more confusion, the 'California' regiments
included New York enlistees and, as a group, were
known as the 'Philadelphia Brigade'

See here:


Personal logo Cheriton Supporting Member of TMP10 Feb 2012 2:44 p.m. PST

Pennsylvania fielded California Regiments with no Californians.

I worked in the inter-library loan office of the local campus of the California State University system here in Central California.

We often received requests (from all over the world) for holdings of the library of California State University which is 3,000 miles away in Pennsylvania (or New Jersey?) and no part of our CSU system.

Confusing place to live, the U.S.


John Michael Priest10 Feb 2012 3:31 p.m. PST

Every Confederate state but South Carolina supplied at least 1 white regiment to the Union Army. Sc provided the1st African American regiment – the 1st South Carolina Volunteers. One of the reasons the Army of the Potomac made it a punishable offense for a soldier to go into combat without his tunic – keep your shirt on – was becasue the Rebs had a bad habit of wearing blue, grey and butternut uniforms and often did fight in their shirt sleeves. There were a lot of undocumneted cases of friendly battle in the smoke clogged fields.

basileus6610 Feb 2012 3:49 p.m. PST

Usually, I don't find it confusing. Usually… in some cases the author is so confusing in his writing that after a few pages I start to be confused even about which war is he writing!

HammerHead29 Feb 2012 12:29 a.m. PST

Reading a book about Grant`s campaign for Vicksburg Missouri units on both sides.
Again when he details single actions it is possible to think who was on which side.

XV Brigada Inactive Member29 Feb 2012 3:38 a.m. PST

I've never been confused!

The history of the ACW is recorded almost exclusively in English. It's easy.

If you really want to read about the Napoleonic Wars you need at least two languages in addition to English.

Sorry - only verified members can post on the forums.