In the 1980’s, a publisher from Lynchburg, Virginia named Harold Howard undertook a magnificent–and pretty much unparalleled–project when he decided to publish a history of EVERY regiment, battalion, or battery fielded by the Commonwealth of Virginia during the Civil War. The scope of the project is really pretty staggering. The series itself is a mixed bag. The books are of mixed quality. Some are definitely better than others, and some are really bad. Fortunately, they were always very affordable, with many of the volumes priced at $19.95.
There are a number of gripes that spread across the spectrum of the series. The production values are inconsistent at best. There is almost no detail in the history section of each book, and there are no footnotes. As research resources, they leave a great deal to be desired. Few of the maps are original, and most of them appear in more than one volume. They contain very little detail. The duplication of photos is pretty shoddy–they’re universally very dark and often hard to make out.
The best aspect of the series is that each volume contains a complete regimental roster, and those rosters often contain extremely useful information. I don’t know this specifically, but I’ve heard this several times from several sources, which is that the information contained in these regimental rosters came from the extensive files accumulated by Bob Krick.
In spite of everything, the series is unique–there is nothing else like it. Overall, the series is useful and has been a worthy addition to the body of knowledge.
Today, in corresponding with Clayton Thompson, one of the booksellers I regularly deal with, I learned that Mr. Howard has allowed nearly 60 of the titles in the series to go out of print, and that many of the remaining titles are in very low stock. In short, the series will be extinct before much longer. For those who are interested in adding volumes from the series to your libraries, I highly recommend that you move quickly to do so.
Personally, I think it’s sad. As I said, it was a unique and groundbreaking series that has added a lot to the body of knowledge, and I hate to see it drift away.Scridb filter