October 11, 2007

Book Review - "My Brave Mechanics"

Engineer soldiers have played an important role in American military activities since the Revolutionary War. Follow in the footsteps of one unit fighting its way through the Civil War.

"My Brave Mechanics:" The First Michigan Engineers and Their Civil War
Mark Hoffman
E 524.9 H64 2007

This regimental history follows the current trend of focusing on the lives on individual, ordinary people. In doing so, it brings to life many of the soldiers in this regiment and helps us to understand their personal challenges as well as their wartime experiences. The book highlights the differences between engineer soldiers and their more numerous and well known infantry and cavalry counterparts, both in describing their training and skills and recounting their role during the hostilities. It provides vivid descriptions of trestle bridges, blockhouses, and other construction responsibilities of these engineers, as well as accounts of destroying transportation and communication lines in order to delay their enemies. Hoffman makes extensive use of primary evidence in his writing, much of it privately held in the hands of the soldiers' descendents or in university archives, and provides extensive notes, photos and maps to support the text.