Sunday, May 30, 2010

A Soldier Author

Andrew Fuller Sperry enlisted with no hoopla in the 33rd Iowa Volunteer Infantry on 5 August 1862. He was 23 years old and about to embark on an adventure that would carry him through the battle of Helena, the Little Rock campaign, the Camden campaign, and fighting in the closing stages of the war near Mobile, Alabama. He ended the war along the Texas coast, a place he commented on in unfavorable language. Remarkably, his History Of The 33d Iowa Infantry Volunteer Regiment, 1863-66 was published only one year after the war ended making it one of the earliest of regimental histories. As a side note, the 33rd Iowa did not muster out until August 1865, and Sperry’s book appeared in print a mere eight months later. If books truly reflect an author’s personality, then I would say that Sperry was a direct, honest, and unpretentious man. His book is straightforward and easy to read with none of the flowery language that characterizes some books written by Civil War veterans. His focus is on his regiment, but he was intellectually curious enough to include his impressions of the people and regions where he campaigned. The best edition of the book is the one edited by Gregory J. W. Urwin and Cathy Kunzinger Urwin and published in 1999 by the University of Arkansas Press. There is much of interest in this book plus it’s a fun read!

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