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Haversacks, Hardtack, and Unserviceable Mules: the Civil War Journey of a Union Quartermaster in Tennessee Kindle Edition
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In April 1861, Private Webster Colburn enlisted in the Union infantry for three months. President Lincoln believed the war would end within that time. Five years later, with a few more stripes and thousands of miles behind him, Major Webster Colburn, a Union Quartermaster mustered out of the Army in June 1866. Haversacks, Hardtack, and Unserviceable Mules is the true story of one man’s private war to survive a year in the infantry and artillery, and four more years in the demanding job of a quartermaster. Providing the Federal Army with everything from socks to horseshoes and haversacks to horses was critical to the survival and success of the Union Army. The details of Colburn’s journey across Tennessee with the Army of the Cumberland during the Civil War is discovered from 6,000 original documents, letters, diary, orders, and monthly reports preserved by his family . The untold story of his struggle behind the scenes at the battles of Stones River, Shiloh, Chattanooga and Knoxville examines his difficulties and mounting responsibilities through times of starvation or through times of victory. Critical to the success of the Union Army, quartermasters kept supplies coming even when railroad bridges were destroyed and crops burned. This unique book contributes to the literature about the Civil War in Tennessee. For the first time, readers can learn about the thousands of mules and horses that were unserviceable and destroyed; or the job of digging up and re-burying hundreds of victims from the Fort Pillow massacre for $7 a body. How many know the details of the Massacre in Memphis in 1866? Or the existence of Fort Rosecrans or Mrs. Major Booth? Haversacks, Hardtack, and Unserviceable Mules examines the scope and intensity of one man’s war.
Nancy McEntee's last book, Molsey Blount: the Colonial First Lady of Tennessee, won the North Carolina Society of Historians book award in 2016. Figuring she passed Writing 101, she retired as an author. But, unable to resist the prodding of a friend, she completed her most recent book, the odyssey of a Civil War Quartermaster. Retired to East Tennessee, she volunteers at Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and as a USMC veteran, she volunteers in an Honor Guard. McEntee is looking for another adventure; something that doesn't involve writing. Let's see if she succeeds.
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Amazon.com: 8 reviews
Good Subject Poorly Written28 May 2019 - Published on Amazon.com
The primary source material for this book is very good and offers some insights to the life of a Quartermaster, but the authors methodology for showcasing them is awful. She constantly repeats herself in different parts of the book, citing the same statistics and quotes over and over again (a good example is that she starts each chapter with a quote, and to start chapters 12 and 20 she uses the same quote from Grant about war as a means of peace). I wish there were more unedited quotes directly from Webster Coulbourn’s letters and less of the authors narrative.
Superb read .... highly recommend!10 December 2017 - Published on Amazon.com
Loved this historical, thoroughly researched work! After ordering my own copy, ordered two more for friends. To say this was an educational read does not do justice, though IMHO it should be required reading for young adults.
One person found this helpful
Five Stars10 November 2017 - Published on Amazon.com
Loved the book. Very interesting for those of us who love reading about the Civil War.
Laura Muntz Derr
The Reality of Supplying a War in the 1860s5 January 2018 - Published on Amazon.com
Nancy McEntee discovered a goldmine of documents from the Civil War in Tennessee: the papers of Union Quartermaster Major Webster Colburn. These 6000+ documents couldn’t have come into better hands; McEntee exhaustively studied and organized them to create a narrative of the reality behind the Civil War. Colburn’s inexhaustible details of procuring food, horses, mules and soldiers’ supplies reveal the horror and suffering behind the lines that few saw. McEntee adds her own research into the mix and provides background about everything from Colburn’s journalistic experience to the nature and resiliency of mules versus horses. The numbers of animals that died, either in battle or of starvation and disease, is mind-numbing and appalling: over 1.5 million horses and mules between 1861-1866. In addition to animals, Colburn was responsible for housing and supplying soldiers, and later in the war, for locating and re-interring the bodies of many soldiers who had died and been hastily buried on the battlefield or alongside roads. Throughout the ordeal, Colburn remains steadfast in fulfilling his duties as a quartermaster, slowly rising in rank along the way. McEntee is a careful historian; she does not put words in Colburn’s mouth or interpret his actions, except in the most observable ways. She allows him to stand on his own, and so reveals the integrity required to fulfill his awful duties. This is an important book of interest to a wide audience, not just Civil War historians.
2 people found this helpful
A Treasure Trove of Fascinating Info and an Untold Story3 February 2018 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
Dr. Nancy McEntee’s new book Haversacks, Hardtack, And Unserviceable Mules is a treasure trove of fascinating and insightful information about the Civil War. It’s the riveting story of Webster Colburn’s service and struggles as a Union Quartermaster mostly in Kentucky and Tennessee. Although there has been plenty written about the generals who ran the war, and there is some of that in this book as well, this is the largely untold story of the quartermasters who were the problem solvers, the wonder workers, the sine qua non of winning a war. Quartermasters handled almost everything except planning strategies and the actual fighting. They were the ones everyone turned to when there was a problem or a complaint. They worked behind the scenes to supply everything the army needed from bullets, horses and mules, food and shelter to disposing of the dead. McEntee skillfully weaves a wagon load of information from Webster’s personal records into a smooth flowing story about the nuts and bolts of fighting a war. The story she tells is full of exquisite historical details that reveal the terrible death, destruction and suffering of men and animals during our nation’s most tragic war. Because we see so many details about the war through Webster’s eyes, this book offers a uniquely down and dirty perspective that fills in many missing details. Until I read this book, I never knew what hard tack was made of, the differences between horses and mules, how much enlisted men were paid or what a sutler was. Now I know “the rest of the story”. Anyone who loves American history will find this book a joy to read. 5-stars!
One person found this helpful