I am a bibliophile, which is to say I love books. I love books both for the knowledge and stories they contain, but also as physical objects to be appreciated for their quality and rarity. Were I a man of much greater means, I would have one of those libraries you see in movies with leather-bound books lining every wall, small step-ladders to reach the top most shelves, and a big globe sat beside my comfy armchair (well, probably a rocking chair in my case). However, as a man of much more modest means, I am quite limited in what I can purchase, and my book buying has to be approached with a great deal of thought and consideration. These days, there is only one area where I will buy ‘collectable’ books, and that is books that concern my ancestry.
With that lengthy preamble, let me present my latest acquisition, 15th Virginia Infantry by Louis H. Manarin. This book is part of The Virginia Regimental Histories Series published by H. E. Howard in the nineties. My copy is number 946 of 1,000, and I picked it up for a song at $25. Gold embossed lettering, heavy board covers, tight sown-binding, it’s a good example of the book-binder’s craft.
Of course, it is what’s inside that really matters. The 15th Virginia Infantry is the unit to which my ancestor John Stewart Walker belonged, and I had high hopes that I might learn a new fact or two. I struck gold! I now know what type of uniform my ancestor wore into battle. I’ve got a picture of the regiment’s battle flag. I’ve got a regimental roster, that indicates that a couple more of my indirect ancestors probably also fought in the unit. But it gets better...one of the author’s sources is a set of letters from one of the men in J.S. Walker’s company, and while rarely referring to Walker, he tells some stories that concerned the whole company.
And then it gets better yet! The book contains a complete account of John Stewart Walker’s death. While I had previously seen a mention in the official dispatches, this is an eye-witness account! $25 for pure gold!
I will share this account once I reach the end of J.S. Walker’s letters as that seems appropriate to me.
For now, the book is going on the shelf between Georgina’s diary and the Colonel’s Confederate Army manual.