Saturday, January 16, 2016

Thomas W. Knox: War Correspondent

Several weeks ago, while visiting the Dickson Street Bookshop I noticed an older book bound in green. Attracted by it, I pulled it off the shelf and noticed that it was written by Thomas W. Knox and published in 1894. The novel is about Harry and Jack who enlist in the First Iowa Infantry and go on to have adventures aplenty at Wilson’s Creek, Pea Ridge, and as prisoners. I’m not really sure how well the book works as a novel. The most interesting aspect to me concerns the author. Thomas W. Knox worked as a war correspondent for the New York Herald and in that capacity covered the Wilson’s Creek and Pea Ridge campaigns. Following that, his professional career took him to Shiloh and then the Vicksburg campaign. Knox was a controversial figure that ended up angering William T. Sherman so much that he was court-martialed and then expelled. Knox’s most famous book is Camp-fire and Cotton-field: Southern Adventure In Time of War (1865) that documents many incidents including his management of a confiscated plantation in Louisiana. The Internet Archive has a digitized copy of Camp-fire and Cotton-field, and it’s apparent that Knox made use of it when writing The Lost Army for his juvenile audience.

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