Book traces history ofAC N.J. Civil War brigade

| 28 Sep 2011 | 03:01

Newton - The First N.J. Brigade was one of the few federal infantry units that were kept together for the duration of the Civil War. Members were volunteers from throughout the state who answered Abraham Lincoln’s call for soldiers. They served together from Bull Run to Appomattox, and in dozens of battles in between, including the Peninsula, Seven Days, Second Bull Run, Antietam, Chancellorsville, Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Cold Harbor, Early’s Valley, and the Petersburg Campaigns. Their story is told in Kearny’s Own, a new book by Bradley Gottfried, president of Sussex County Community College. In Kearny’s Own: The History of the First New Jersey Brigade in the Civil War (Rivergate Books/Rutgers University Press), Gottfried traces the history of the brigade from their early stages as a disorganized, ragtag outfit to the appointment of General Philip Kearny, who transformed the troops, making them among the most disciplined and effective commands in the Army of the Potomac. Gottfried weaves together compelling accounts of battles fought, with a wealth of letters and diaries to tell the story from a uniquely personal perspective. “Wherever possible, I use their voices because it is so much more powerful,” says Gottfried. The hopes, fears and sorrows of the men come through vividly as accounts reveal how civilians were physically and emotionally transformed into soldiers, and provide insight to what the war meant to the men who fought in the Union. Fourteen maps illustrate the battles and marches, while detailed appendices include statistical breakdowns of losses, and outline the fates of the soldiers whose letters and diaries are used. In this first book published on the subject, Gottfried not only provides a long-overdue history of the First New Jersey Brigade, he offers a human window into the turbulent and trying experiences of war. Gottfried has been president of Sussex County Community College for five years. A native of Philadelphia, he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in biology and a doctorate in zoology from Miami University. He has spent his professional career as a full-time faculty member and administrator in five states. Gottfried is the author of Brigades of Gettysburg, The Roads to Gettysburg, Stopping Pickett: The History of the Philadelphia Brigade, and The Battle of Gettysburg: A Guided Tour. He has also written two forthcoming books, The Artillery of Gettysburg and The Maps of Gettysburg. He has written extensively for Gettysburg Magazine and Civil War Times Illustrated.