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48th NC: Writings of a Rebel Colonel: The Civil War Diary and Letters of Samuel Walkup, 48th North Carolina

Unit: 48th North Carolina

Unit Affiliation: (Cooke), Heth, Third Corps, Army of Northern Virginia

Title: Writings of a Rebel Colonel: The Civil War Diary and Letters of Samuel Walkup, 48th North Carolina

Author: Kemp Burpeau, Editor

SOPO’s Take: Samuel H. Walkup was a Presbyterian, Whig, descendant of Revolutionary War veterans, a voracious reader, a lawyer, and a slaveowner. Despite that last his views on slavery were complicated, as the editor explains in his biography. He served with the 48th North Carolina for most of its existence. He saw action in a variety of places, most importantly French’s Farm in the Seven Days, Antietam, on Marye’s Heights in an exposed position at Fredericksburg, Bristoe Station, the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, and Cold Harbor. He was wounded on June 15, 1864 north of the James River while Heth’s Division was searching for where Grant’s Union armies might have gone. Walkup soldiered on for a few months before taking a leave of absence to recover from his wounding. He returned to his regiment in 1865, now located near Hatcher’s Run, witnessed Fort Stedman, and retreated with his regiment on April 2, 1865, eventually surrendering at Appomattox. Burpeau does a solid job editing, filling in a lot of missing information and helping the reader understand Walkup’s references to people, places, and events.  He also provides a nearly 40 page biography of the Confederate Colonel. Walkup’s letters and journal entries provide a fairly meaty look at the 48th North Carolina, which served in Cooke’s North Carolina Brigade at Petersburg.  He doesn’t hold back on such famous Confederate leaders as A. P. Hill and even Robert E. Lee!  I know of no other unit history for this regiment, so Walkup’s writing also serves as a sort of de facto history of the regiment for the times he was present. Anyone interested in Cooke’s Brigade, North Carolina forces, or unit histories in the eastern Theater will find this a useful and interesting read.

I debated whether or not to mention this last part, but I feel it must be said.  Here’s some unsolicited advice for aspiring authors and editors of Civil War books: leave modern day politics out of your book! If you don’t you can live with the consequences of lost sales.  The editor went on such a screed in the first paragraph of his Preface I considered sending it back to McFarland outright without reading another word, but I’m glad I soldiered on.  It seems apparent Burpeau holds extreme political views, and despite agreeing with his sentiment regarding the treatment of African-Americans who were forced to endure slavery, it was extremely off-putting and something I’ve never seen in a Preface until now.  I hope this sort of thing remains an outlier. Despite this, I still recommend the book for the content of Walkup’s correspondence (both for its quality as well as the scarcity of material on the 48th North Carolina), the biography of the Colonel, and the times when the editor sticks to explaining Walkup’s correspondence. After writing this paragraph I went to Amazon to link to the book there and it seems the Preface was noted by both reviewers, one of which doesn’t appear to have even read past it.

Book Summary/Review:

    SOPO Siege of Petersburg Book Notes:

      Publisher: McFarland, https://mcfarlandbooks.com/

      Publisher Info:

      About the Book
      Lawyer, planter and politician Samuel Hoey Walkup (1818–1876) led the 48th North Carolina Infantry in the Civil War. A devout Christian and Whig nationalist, he opposed secession until hostilities were well underway, then became a die-hard Confederate, serving in the Army of Northern Virginia from the Seven Days battles through Appomattox.

      Presenting Walkup’s complete and annotated writings, this composite biography of an important but overlooked Southern leader reveals an insightful narrator of his times. Having been a pre-war civilian outside the West Point establishment, he offers a candid view of Confederate leadership, particularly Robert E. Lee and A.P. Hill. Home life with his wife Minnie Parmela Reece Price and the enslaved members of their household was a complex relationship of cooperation and resistance, congeniality and oppression. Walkup’s story offers a cautionary account of misguided benevolence supporting profound racial oppression.

      About the Author(s)
      Kemp Burpeau is a local government attorney and college history professor with past service on the North Carolina Historical Commission and reviewer for the Society of Civil War Historians and The Civil War News. He lives in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina.

      Bibliographic Details
      Samuel Walkup
      Format: softcover (6 x 9)
      Pages: 231
      Bibliographic Info: 9 photos, notes, bibliography, index
      Copyright Date: 2021
      pISBN: 978-1-4766-8669-1
      eISBN: 978-1-4766-4448-6
      Imprint: McFarland

      Table of Contents
      Preface  1
      Biography  3
      Walkup’s Civil War Journal and Correspondence  39
      Chapter Notes  163
      Bibliography  215
      Index  221

      Publication Date: 2021

      ISBN-13: 978-1-4766-8669-1

      Links to Read/Buy:

      1. Writings of a Rebel Colonel: The Civil War Diary and Letters of Samuel Walkup, 48th North Carolina (McFarland Books)
      2. Writings of a Rebel Colonel: The Civil War Diary and Letters of Samuel Walkup, 48th North Carolina (Amazon.com)
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