Friday, October 16, 2009

An Excellent First Hand Account

Recently I read Marching With The First Nebraska: A Civil War Diary co-edited by James E. Potter and Edith Robbins and published by the University of Oklahoma Press in 2007. It’s a shame that this book does not seem to have been widely reviewed because it is a gem. The book provides an edited (and translated) version of a diary written by August Scherneckau, a German immigrant who migrated to the Nebraska Territory in 1858. Scherneckau enlisted in the fall of 1862, and served until mustering out in October 1865. His diary (plus a few letters) does not feature any “battle” accounts, but what it does have is a wealth of Scherneckau's well-written entries about the countryside, guard duty, civilians, behavior (mostly bad) by his fellow soldiers, foraging, scouting, and skirmishing. St. Louis, southeastern Missouri and northeastern Arkansas were the primary venues of Scherneckau’s war with a finale in the Nebraska Territory. This well-edited book is for readers who are ready for something a bit different; this is not a guns and bugles kind of book but a gritty look at soldiering mostly behind the lines.


  1. I hope someone writes a regimental history of the 1st Nebraska someday.

  2. What an interesting history this Nebraska unit had! Certainly many people would be surprised to learn that a Nebraska unit served at Fort Donelson and at Shiloh. Scherneckau's diary, along with other available primary accounts, will hopefully lure a historian to tell the story of these Nebraskans someday.