If This is War
A History of the Campaign of Bull's Run by the Wisconsin Regiment Thereafter Known as the Ragged Ass Second
by Alan D. Gaff
347 pp., index, photos, maps, hardcover, dust jacket.
If This Is War is a unique approach to military history—an entire volume devoted to the experiences of soldiers in a single regiment during their first campaign. The events are described so vividly that the reader will be swept up in the excitement following the fall of Fort Sumter and will hasten to sign the muster roll of his favorite company. He will follow his company through its organizations and on to the rendezvous. He will drill with the boys by day at Camp Randall and raise hell in Madison when off duty. He will march along with the regiment into Virginia, the hostile land of secession, and drill, drill and drill at Camp Peck until the campaign begins. He will march to the battlefield, then eagerly start up the Henry Hill with his company. If the reader stays in the ranks, he will swear that he can almost smell the smoke and hear the crash of musketry. But the sacrifice is to no avail and the Second Wisconsin must retreat to await other opportunities to battle the enemy alongside the other regiments of the Iron Brigade.