Review: No Prouder Fate: The Story of the 11th South Carolina Volunteer Infantry

by Brett Schulte on February 10, 2010 · 0 comments

This is the first review for the second release of titles in the South Carolina Regimental-Roster Set series from Broadfoot Publishing Company.  A significant portion of each review will show you how this particular volume compared to the others in the series in terms of regimental history length, amount of annotation, depth and print size of rosters, bibliography, illustrations, and maps.  I do this to show readers just how different each volume can be.  The South Carolina Regimental-Roster Set bears a striking external appearance to the H.E. Howard Virginia Regimental Histories series.  These books were, in fact designed as a South Carolina answer to the Virginia unit histories.  Broadfoot hopes to publish 50 volumes in this set, and has announced all 50 will be published due to the interest in the first four books.  If you are interested in regimental histories, especially those from South Carolina, I encourage you to pick up these volumes immediately.

Baxley, Neil. No Prouder Fate: The Story of the 11th South Carolina Volunteer Infantry (2009). 395 pages, photos, roster, notes, bibliography. ISBN: 978-1-56837-414-7 $40.00 (Hardcover).

Neil Baxley’s No Prouder Fate: The Story of the 11th South Carolina Volunteer Infantry is part of the second release of books in Broadfoot Publishing’s new South Carolina Regimental-Roster Set series.  This version of No Prouder Fate is a reprint of the same title which was first published in 2005.  The lack of maps and not enough “voice” from the men themselves were areas which detracted somewhat from the reader experience.  With that said, the roster combined with Neil Baxley’s traditional regimental history of the 11th provides readers with a great resource on the regiment.

Author Neil Baxley writes with a very noticeable Confederate viewpoint on the war.  He is a former member of the United States Marine Corps and has served as a member of the Beaufort County, South Carolina Sheriff’s Department for the past 25 years.  Mr. Baxley’s ancestors have served in every branch of the U.S. military and in all her wars save the Korean War. Interestingly, Mr. Baxley also is a reenactor with the 11th South Carolina.

Camp Pope Publishing

The 11th South Carolina often fought obscure engagements in less famous theaters of the war.  Much of the 11th’s early experience involved the area around Beaufort and Hilton Head, South Carolina.  The 11th was present when the North took Port Royal and Hilton Head in late 1861.  In the next several years, the various scattered companies of the 11th fought off Yankee excursions into the South Carolina Low Country.  Captain John H. Mickler of Beaufort was renowned as a raider and his Company E was used extensively around the Beauport area for that purpose in 1862 and early 1863.  In September 1863 part of the 11th was detailed to defend famous Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor.  The 11th missed participating in the Battle of Olustee, Florida by just a week in early 1864.  The real fighting for the 11th began in May 1864 when the 11th joined other South Carolina regiments as reinforcements for General P.G.T. Beauregard in the Richmond-Petersburg area of operations.  The 11th saw heavy fighting during the Bermuda Hundred Campaign and the Battle of Cold Harbor as a member of Johnson Hagood’s Brigade, Hoke’s Division.  Beauregard, with help from Hagood and his men, saved Petersburg from June 16-18, 1864.  As a result, the trenches surrounding the Cockade City served as the 11th’s home during the summer of 1864.  Hagood’s Brigade participated in an unsuccessful attack on the last day of the Battle of Globe Tavern in late August.  Early 1865 found the 11th moved with Hoke’s Division to the Wilmington, North Carolina area.  Hoke was charged with defending the Confederacy’s last remaining open port, a task he ultimately failed to complete successfully.  Most of the 11th was captured in several actions around Wilmington with the remainder participating at the Battle of Bentonville.  The survivors ultimately surrendered with Joe Johnston’s army in North Carolina.  The 11th South Carolina’s service varied greatly, from pitched battles with the Army of Northern Virginia, to outpost duty by company in the South Carolina Low Country, to the defense of Fort Sumter.  As author Neil Baxley states, “there were success stories and there were and failures”, but the men fought bravely and stayed in the fight to the end no matter which challenges were thrown their way.

The regimental history of the 11th South Carolina is the shortest unit history of this second release of three books in this series at 183 pages.  For comparison’s sake, the books on the 15th South Carolina and the James Battalion weigh in at 326 and 324 pages, respectively.  With that said, this book’s regimental history is longer than all but one of the first four books in this set, some of which were brief sketches rather than fully fleshed out unit histories like this one.  The focus on the 11th was very good for its years of service in South Carolina, but once the unit was transferred north to the Richmond-Petersburg area, the focus was more on Hagood’s Brigade as a whole rather than specifically on the 11th.  No Prouder Fate contains five pages of notes, which is slightly below average for the series as a whole.

I have made clear my preference for numerous detailed maps in a regimental history which focus specifically on the regiment in question.  No Prouder Fate has no real maps, one if you count the very small and grainy reproduction of Beaufort County, South Carolina in the illustrations section of the book.  The lack of maps makes it very difficult for readers to follow along, especially with the first few years of the 11th South Carolina’s campaigns in and around Hilton Head.  These engagements are much less studied than the more famous battles in Virginia and North Carolina.  The author has lived in the Beaufort area for quite some time and may have originally intended this book to be written for a local audience, which perhaps partially explains this oversight.  When the original version of No Prouder Fate was reworked for the South Carolina Regimental-Roster Set series, some maps would have greatly added to the value of the regimental history.

The roster, the main reason this series came into being, is pretty standard for these books.  In other words, it is extremely detailed, easy to read, and greatly facilitates research on men who served in the 11th South Carolina.  The roster is organized in alphabetical order by last name for the entire regiment.  The roster is not broken down by company but company affiliation for each man is prominently noted.  Readers interested in the regiment will want to own a copy of this book for the roster alone, though the regimental history is also well done.  I am unsure how or if this roster differs from the roster found in the original version of this book.

The bibliography features primary sources gathered from library research and secondary sources which pertain to the regiment.  Despite relying heavily on the Official Records throughout the endnotes, no mention of that indispensible source is included in the bibliography.  The author also relied on the Charleston Mercury daily newspaper quite a bit throughout the text which was a nice addition.    Johnson Hagood’s memoirs are another heavily used source by Baxley.  I would have liked to have seen more primary and secondary sources used, especially sources focusing on the individual battles of the regiment.

Although there were some typos scattered here and there throughout the book, most were minor.  Overall, they did not noticeably detract from the reading experience.

One very interesting feature unique to this book was the “Where is it Now?” segment at the end of each chapter.  Author Neil Baxley looks at sites from the 11th’s fights and goes over what is left of these places today.  A lot of these locations in South Carolina are unfortunately no longer recognizable as Civil War battlefields.  Although some of this is due to erosion around Charleston, another reason involves development on the islands in the Beaufort, South Carolina area.

Neil Baxley’s No Prouder Fate is a worthy addition to the South Carolina Regimental-Roster Set series from Broadfoot Publishing.  The book focuses on a lesser known South Carolina regiment which only briefly served with the Army of Northern Virginia.  The regimental history suffered a bit from lack of maps and a general lack of “voice” from the men who were there.  Some readers may also note a partisan Confederate viewpoint from the author.  Readers interested in the operations along the coast of the Carolinas and students of the Bermuda Hundred and Petersburg Campaigns will definitely want to own this book.  Researchers, genealogists, and descendants of members of the 11th South Carolina will also find this a useful addition to their libraries.

NOTE: This is my first review of the second release of three books in Broadfoot Publishing’s South Carolina Regimental-Roster Set series.  You may be interested in my reviews of the first four volumes in this series as well as interviews with authors Mac Wyckoff and Lee Sturkey.  Check out the related posts links at the bottom of this title to see more on this series here at TOCWOC – A Civil War Blog.

I would like to thank Tom Broadfoot at Broadfoot Publishing Company.

Disclaimer: A free review copy of this book was used for the purposes of this review.

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