Unit: 89th New York
Unit Affiliation: (3), 2, XVIII and later (4), 1, XXIV
Title: The Civil War Letters of William A. Robinson: The Story of the 89th New York Volunteer Infantry
Author: Robert J. Taylor (Editor)
SOPO’s Take: Editor Robert J. Taylor has collected the letters of his great great grandfather William A. Robinson, a soldier in the 89th New York of the Eighteenth Corps, Army of the James. As Taylor writes early in the book, the 89th New York doesn’t have a lot written about it. This tends to happen quite often when dealing with regiments from the Army of the James. The letters are fantastic. Robinson was an atrocious speller, and the editor leaves his spelling intact. The 89th New York was at Second Petersburg, had a front row seat to the Crater though held in reserve, and finally played a role at Fort Harrison. Robinson and the other three year men were mustered out in October 1864, which is where the letters end. This was a lucky occurrence for these men. The regiment had received many brand new recruits and suffered serious casualties at the October 27, 1864 Second Battle of Fair Oaks. They also went on to fight at Fort Gregg on April 2, 1865 during the fall of Petersburg. Overall, this book is pretty good. Robinson’s letters provide a great look at an Army of the James man at Petersburg. Editor Taylor chose not to provide much in the way of footnotes explaining the letters, which I feel was a missed opportunity. That said, it is apparent from the added history of the 89th New York that Taylor does not have a background studying Civil War history, having collected and published these letters due to the familial relation to the letters’ author. Despite no real attempt at detailed footnotes, the editor did researchers a great service in publishing his ancestor’s letters home.
SOPO Siege of Petersburg Book Notes:
Publisher: Heritage Books, Inc.
Publication Date: 2011
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