I want to thank Mr. Donald R. McClarey for posting a very kind review of Notre Dame and the Civil War: Marching Onward to Victory (The History Press, 2010) on his popular "The American Catholic" and "Almost Chosen People" blogs this week.
One thing I was aiming for in this book was to craft a story (backed by good scholarship) that would appeal to multiple audiences: Civil War enthusiasts, Notre Dame almuni ("bona fide" and "subway), folks interested in the history of Catholics in America, and more. As it turns out, Don can count himself among several of those intended audiences, and I am so pleased, honored, and humbled that he found merit in the book!
And if you have a history blog yourself, check out "Almost Chosen People" and consider adding it to your blog roll (I did at my Civil War Medicine blog!)...it's TERRIFIC!
You can read the review here. Excerpts are below.
"I have read hundreds of books on the [Civil] War. Truth to tell, more than a few of the books I have read on the Civil War have left me with a ho hum feeling, not telling me much that I haven’t read many, many times before. I am therefore always pleasantly surprised when a tome on the Late Unpleasantness can give me lots of new information, and such is the case with Notre Dame and the Civil War, by James M. Schmidt...he has brought forth facts and new pieces of information...that I have not read elsewhere.
Schmidt skillfully relates the fever to enlist in the Union army that swept through the students of Notre Dame after Fort Sumter. Along with their students, Notre Dame priests also served as chaplain. Most famous among them was of course Father William Corby, who marched and fought with the Irish Brigade...The book relates the adventures of Father Corby, but also relates the stories of other Notre Dame priests who served as chaplains, including Father Paul E. Gillen, Father James Dillon, Father Joseph C. Carrier and Father Peter P. Cooney...
The Sisters of the Holy Cross...also got behind the war effort. Sixty of the Sisters would serve as nurses during the war. The role of Catholic Sisters as nurses in the Civil War is one of the great largely unsung stories of the War...Mr. Schmidt gives these heroic women their due.
Students and alums of Notre Dame are followed through the war: young Colonel William Lynch who heroically led the 58th Illinois...poet Timothy E. Howard, a private in the 12th Michigan...Sergeant Frank Baldwin who died for the Union at Stone’s River...Lieutenant Orville Chamberlain of the 74th Indiana who earned a Medal of Honor at Chickamauga for his heroism.
While the focus is on the battlefield, the book also keeps an eye on the functioning of Notre Dame during the war. Here the central figure is Father Edward Sorin, founder of Notre Dame and President of Notre Dame. Father Sorin comes across in the book as possessing both the innocence of a dove and the wiliness of a serpent and was a formidable priest, just what Notre Dame needed during that time of trial.
This book is a small gem, only 144 pages in length. Anyone interested in the Civil War and/or Notre Dame, or who simply would like to read a very well written history on a fascinating subject, should pick this up.