I recently finished reading Scott L. Mingus’ newest book, “The Louisiana Tigers in the Gettysburg Campaign: June-July 1863.” I am a fan of Scott Mingus. My first experience with one of his excellent narratives was a year ago, when I read “Flames Beyond Gettysburg: The Gordon Expedition, June 1863.” During a subsequent interview with Scott, published on this blog, I learned that Scott was working on a book on the Louisiana Tigers and their fight at East Cemetery Hill, on the second day of Gettysburg. Several months ago, Scott sent me an email letting me know my copy of the book would soon be sent out. Unfortunately, when I received the book, I had a lot of other things I was working on. I was finally able to start reading it during late January.
The book was worth the wait. Scott provides a brief biography on Chatham R. Wheat’s 1st Louisiana Battalion and the formation of the 1st Louisiana Brigade, better known as the Louisiana Tigers. Another short biography follows on the brigade’s first commander, Harry T. Hays. Hays, a wealthy New Orleans entrepreneur, was a logical choice to command the brigade as he was well connected and had experience in the military. Hays would command the brigade until he was severely wounded at the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House in May 1863. After recovering from his wounds he would be transferred to the trans-Mississippi theater where he would command the forces in Louisiana.
“The Louisiana Tigers” picks up the action after the Battle of Chancellorsville. With CSA Lieutenant General Richard S. Ewell’s 2d Corps in the van, as the Army of Northern Virginia marched for Pennsylvania, the men of his corps would inevitably see action. Hays’ brigade was part of CSA Major General Jubal A. Early’s Division of the 2d Corps. Choosing to use the Shenandoah Valley to screen his army’s movements, CSA General Robert E. Lee needed to clear the valley of Federal resistance. US Major General Robert H. Milroy’s garrison was at Winchester, Virginia, with parts of his division garrisoned at Berryville and Martinsburg. With the 2d Corps leading the march north, they would be the first infantry to arrive south of Winchester. Encountering the Federal forces south of Winchester, Ewell’s soldiers quickly pushed them back to the defenses of Winchester. On June 14, 1863, during the Battle of Second Winchester, Ewell was able to make one of he more spectacular, often overlooked, flank marches during the entire Civil War. With a mountain screening his movements, and timber on the mountain hiding his rapidly assembling force, Ewell was able to surprise the Federal garrison at Winchester, pushing them towards Harpers Ferry. Hays’ Tigers took a prominent role in the fighting at Second Winchester and Mingus provides an excellent narrative of the battle.
Mingus next leads the reader on a journey with the Tigers to Pennsylvania. The primary source material that the author was able to locate makes you feel like you are marching with the Tigers. This is not a “pro Tiger” book. The author does not fail to provide balance in his writing and he is quick to note the trepidations the Louisiana soldiers turned loose on the northern populace. These human interest stories, involving the interactions of the Louisianans with the civilian population of Pennsylvania, make the book a real page turner. Mingus adroitly weaves the compelling stories of the soldiers with the well written battlefield narratives.
Before attaining their objective - the capture of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania - Ewell’s 2d Corps was ordered back to the rest of the army near Cashtown, or Gettysburg, whichever circumstances required. On July 1, the 2d Corps would hear artillery and musketry coming from the Gettysburg area. Early would quickly march his division to the sounds of fighting, reaching the area of present day Barlow’s Knoll, in time to participate in the fight against US Major General O.O. Howard’s XI Corps. By the end of the day, the Tigers were positioned on the north side of Gettysburg, facing the I and XI corps positioned on East Cemetery Hill and Culp’s Hill. The stage was set for a significant engagement on July 2. The action during these first two days of fighting, at Gettysburg, jumps off the pages as you read the book. The imagery Mingus paints, through his prose, provides a clear picture of what it was like to be a Tiger, facing the Federal forces arrayed on East Cemetery Hill. The author’s description of the fight for Cemetery Hill is detailed and provides enough action for any serious Civil War student. At the end of the narrative, of the second day’s fight, Mingus challenges the reader to understand the missed opportunities the 2d Corps did not exploit. Hays’ Louisiana Tigers had provided one of the best opportunities to change the course of the Battle of Gettysburg – and perhaps the outcome of the three day fight.
On March 1, I was able to have a talk with Scott. This talk reveals that Mingus is an expert historian on the Gettysburg Campaign. He provides a great deal of information on the Louisiana Tigers and their battlefield exploits at Second Winchester and Gettysburg. It was a lively discussion and one I am confident you will enjoy listening to. If you have not purchased Scott’s book “Flames Beyond Gettysburg,” I highly recommend that you do so. The book covers the Confederate 2d Corps’ early movements into Pennsylvania and their attempt to capture the state capital. Each book stands well by itself, and you can read them in any order. “The Louisiana Tigers,” published by LSU Press, is a must read for any serious Civil War student – or anyone with an interest in the Battle of Gettysburg. I recommend that you pick up both books and strap yourself in for a magnificent journey, with Scott Mingus as your tour guide.
Details about “The Louisiana Tigers in the Gettysburg Campaign”
Written by: Scott L. Mingus, Sr.
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Louisiana State University Press
Date of First Edition: October 15, 2009
Scott L. Mingus, Sr. Interview – 12 Parts
Total Time: 1 hour 16 minutes 57 seconds
* Note: Scott’s audio is a little quiter than I would have liked. It would be helpful to listen to this interview on external speakers or with earphones.
Part 1: Scott Mingus Interview Part 1
Contents: Welcome and introductions | Why write about the Louisiana Tigers? | Recap on Scott’s recent book, “Flames Beyond Gettysburg | What about those Louisiana Tigers?! – “Ferocious, Fearless, Powerful, Determined, Unyielding, Untamed.” | About the First Louisiana Brigade’s commander, Harry T. Hays
Part 2: Scott Mingus Interview Part 2
Contents: The Tigers feared by Federal troops and Confederate civilians | Hays’ Louisiana Tigers at the Battle of Second Winchester, Virginia – was it one of the most successful flank marches for the Army of Northern Virginia?
Part 3: Scott Mingus Interview Part 3
Contents: A discussion on the use of Dr. Bradley Gottfried’s maps on the Battle of Second Winchester | The use of first hand accounts and primary source material – did Scott experience any difficulties researching “The Louisiana Tigers?”
Part 4: Scott Mingus Interview Part 4
Contents: The opening actions of the Gettysburg Campaign in Pennsylvania | Jubal Early’s Confederate 2d Corps Division marches towards their objective: Harrisburg | What? – the Louisiana Tigers behaving themselves in enemy territory?? | The “Tigers” begin to show their true colors | Jubal Early ransoms the city of York
Part 5: Scott Mingus Interview Part 5
Contents: The Tigers go to work pillaging the Pennsylvania countryside | Confederate commanders turn a “blind eye” to pillaging | Lee orders Ewell’s 2d Corps back to Cashtown, Pennsylvania | Hays’ Tigers arrive at Gettysburg and the fight against the Federal XI Corps at Barlow’s Knoll and Coster’s brigade at the brickyard
Part 6: Scott Mingus Interview Part 6
Contents: The Louisiana Tigers fight through the streets of Gettysburg | Robert E. Lee meets with Ewell, Early and Robert E. Rodes suggesting they consolidate the Army of Northern Virginia on Seminary Ridge – Early convinces Lee to keep the 2d Corps north of East Cemetery Hill and Culp’s Hill – How did this impact the outcome of the Battle of Gettysburg?
Part 7: Scott Mingus Interview Part 7
Contents: Mingus describes the tactical situation facing the 2d Corps on the morning of July 2 | What the Tigers faced on East Cemetery Hill | “Extra Billy” Smith’s Brigade is positioned east of Gettysburg to protect Early’s flank at East Cemetery Hill – how did this impact the tactical situation for the Louisiana Tigers? | With the artillery south of Gettysburg falling silent, signaling James Longstreet’s 1st Corps attack, the Federals on Cemetery Hill prepare for the Rebels to attack – Mingus’ description of the Federal preparations on East Cemetery Hill
Part 8: Scott Mingus Interview Part 8
Contents: Avery’s North Carolinians initiate the attack on East Cemetery Hill | While Federal artillery rakes Avery’s brigade, the situation is different on Hays’ front | With darkness falling the Louisiana Tigers enter the battle | Hand-to-hand combat along the Federal line | Hays is forced to withdraw his First Louisiana Brigade – the soldiers’ reactions | A grand opportunity missed? | Where was Robert E. Rodes’ Division?
Part 9: Scott Mingus Interview Part 9
Contents: Samuel Carroll’s Federal Gibraltar Brigade arrives on East Cemetery Hill in time to participate in the rout of Early’s Division | A discussion on Hays’ attack on East Cemetery Hill – could rapid support for Early’s attack changed the outcome of the Battle of Gettysburg?
Part 10: Scott Mingus Interview Part 10
Contents: The “no-man’s land” after Early’s attack – what the medics, chaplains and soldiers found | Sharpshooters on both sides were effective on July 3 – a testament to the effectiveness of the rifles at long range
Part 11: Scott Mingus Interview Part 11
Contents: The Army of Northern Virginia begins its retreat to Virginia | The suffering continues for the Louisiana Tigers in field hospitals – what was their longterm plight? | The Louisiana Tigers receive praise for their actions at Second Winchester and Gettysburg | Hays promoted to division command and the last two years of service for the Tigers
Part 12: Scott Mingus Interview Part 12
Contents: Scott’s future projects | Wrap up and closing
Details about “Flames Beyond Gettysburg: The Gordon Expedition, June 1863”
Written by: Scott L. Mingus, Sr.
Paperback: 624 pages
Publisher: Ironclad Publishing
Date of First Edition: March 2009