The Rough Side of War

IMG_0282As promised, here is the first of a series of books I feel are critical to understanding the armies that fought at Chickamauga.

Arnold Gates, ed., The Rough Side of War, The Civil War Journal of Chesley A. Mosman. Garden City, NY: The Basin Publishing Co., 1987.

Lieutenant Chesley Mosman served in the 59th Illinois Infantry. He enlisted in Marine Prairie, Illinois, in 1861; in a regiment first designated the 9th Missouri Infantry. He served in Thomas Wood’s Division of the 21st and 4th Corps. Though his first two journals for 1861 have been lost, his surviving journals begin in January, 1862, and run all the way to December 31, 1865.

Along the way, Mosman writes wonderfully detailed journal entries describing both his immediate circumstances (weather, camp life, etc.) and his thoughts on everything from questions of the day to military affairs. At 448 pages, this book is no quick read, but it is rewarding.

I have come to rely on it heavily, and cite it often.

Here is a snippet from his entry for September 2, 1863 – which runs to a full page of text.

It seems queer for Rosecrans to move his men down in rear of the Rebel Army and thus invite an attack, but such is war. They call it flanking the enemy out of his position, but one is reminded of old General Willich, who when informed by a frightened staff officer that the enemy had passed round his flank and got in rear of him, replied “Vell, vell, vat of dat? When he is in my rear aint I in his rear?” We must always remember that there are two rears – one for each army – in War, but I’ll let old Rosey boss the job.

Mosman’s journal is a vital resource for anyone studying the Army of the Cumberland, fully equal to Sam Watkins’ famous work from the Confederate perspective, “Company Aitch.”

Spend some time with Mosman.

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4 Responses to “The Rough Side of War”

  1. Meg Groeling Says:

    Dave–I write a similar column for the Civil War News–it is called Civil War Obscura, and reviews older books. The next entry will be A Fool’s Errand, by Albion Tourgee. Is it OK to ask if you could do a guest column on a Civil War book? Let me know.

  2. Dave Powell Says:

    I could do something for CW news. Let me know what you have in mind. dpowell334@aol.com

  3. Simon Says:

    This has been on my wishlist for a decade. I just wish there was a copy available for under a 100. His Atlanta campaign material is great as well

  4. battlecastnet Says:

    I had never heard of this book before and am researching the battle. I greatly appreciate your post!

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