Saturday, October 16, 2010

Yankee in Gray -- A Great Classic

"Yankee in Gray"
By Mike Jones
I've been into reading classic histories on  the War For Southern Independence lately, and just finished another one, "Yankee in Gray" by Henry E. Handerson (The Press of Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio). Handerson was a member of the Stafford Guards, Company B, 9th Louisiana  Infantry Regiment, one of the outstanding Pelican State units in the Army of Northern Virginia. Handerson started the war as a private, became a lieutenant and adjutant of the regiment, and then was promoted to captain and served on the staff of Brig. Gen. Stafford.

Despite being a native of Ohio, Handerson had spent  a longtime in the South and was working as a tutor to  a plantation family in Rapides Parish when the war started. He admits in his memoir that he had supported the Bell-Everett Constitutional  Union Party ticket in the 1860 election, and that he hadn't given  a lot of thought to the right of secession before the secession crisis after the election. However he was inclined to support his friends in the South for the establishment of a new, free and indepedendent Southern Republic. Handerson was as loyal and devoted as any other Confederate and served honorably throughout the whole 4 years of the conflict. He suffered mightily for the south during the war, suffering a serious wound and captivity in the last year. Handerson was one of the "Immortal 600," Confederate prisoners of war who were deliberately placed under the fire of Confederate artillery. However he survived it all to go on to become a distinguished medical doctor after the ward.

Pvt. Henry E. Handerson in
his early war uniform
 of Co. B, 9th Louisiana
Infantry Regiment.
(The Western Reserve
 University Press)
 The late, great, historian Bell I Wiley, wrote this of Handerson's memoir, "He was an unusually keen observer and wrote with exceptional frankness and honesty. Especially valuable and interesting  are his discerning remarks about Southern society in the late antebellum period, his comments on various military leaders, such as 'Rob' Wheat, Richard Taylor, and 'Stonewall' Jackson, his vivid depictions of battle and his surprisingly objective description of prison life. This unique account by an unusual soldier should have great appeal to anyone interested in the Civil War."

No comments: