From Huntsville to Appomattox

R. T. Coles's History of 4th Regiment, Alabama Volunteer Infantry, C. S. A. , Army of Northern Virginia

  • Author(s): Stocker, Jeffrey D.
  • Series: Voices of the Civil War
  • Imprint: Univ Tennessee Press
  • Publication Date: 2005-01-15
  • Status: Active
  • Available in Paper: Price $34.95 | Buy Now

Voices of the Civil War Series

The 4th Alabama Volunteer Infantry was among the most famous and hardest fighting regiments in the Civil War—and one of the few military units to see action in both the western and eastern theaters of the conflict. As part of Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, it fought in every major engagement in the East—Manassas, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Gettysburg—before joining General James Longstreet’s First Corps in the West for such battles as Chickamauga and Knoxville. Returning to Lee’s fold for the bloody campaign of 1864, the regiment saw the war through to its conclusion at Appomattox.

This book represents the first publication, in its entirety, of Robert T. Coles’s stirring history of the 4th Alabama. As the regiment’s adjutant, Coles had intimate access to its day-to-day functions and decision-making processes, including its relationships with other Confederate units. His account not only details battles and strategies but captures the human drama of soldiers engaged in front-line combat. The swiftly paced narrative is marked by engaging turns of phrase—Antietam, Coles says, was “a perfect homespun Waterloo”—and by an eye for the poignant detail: Coles describes how, upon learning of Lee’s surrender, the men of the 4th Alabama tore apart their bullet-torn battle flag (“our precious old rag”) and distributed the pieces among themselves.

In editing Coles’s history, Jeffrey D. Stocker offers extensive notes that provide background details and alternative perspectives on the events and individuals Coles describes. In addition, Stocker has included unedited accounts of three key battles—First Manassas, Gettysburg, and the Wilderness—by other members of the 4th Alabama. These elements combine with Coles’s narrative to create an informative and richly textured volume.

The Editor: Jeffrey D. Stocker is a practicing attorney in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania. He is currently writing a history of General John Bell Hood’s division at the Battle of Gettysburg.