Book Review: A Magnificent Irishman from Appalachia: The Letters of Lt James Gildea, First Ohio Light Artillery, Battery L

Kimberly J. Largent

by Julian Mohr Published by Little Miami Publishing Co, Milford, OH ISBN 1-932250-00-X This masterfully-compiled book contains the letters of Lieutenant James Frederick Gildea, an Irish officer from Appalachia region who was attached to Battery L of the First Ohio Light Artillery. It is an excellent source for anyone researching the formation and history of the First Ohio Light Artillery. The detailed letters of Gildea chronicle how and where the regiment was formed and include such specifics as the dates of recruitment and the names of the recruiters; and the battery's early days at Camp Dennison through the battles at Kernstown, Port Republic, Chantilly, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville and Gettysburg. Also included are Gildea's private musings on what it was like going up against legends such as Stonewall Jackson. Gildea's recollections are clear and concise and give the reader an understanding of what went on behind the scenes. And although he shares many hardships, he has also been generous in conveying the shenanigans of Battery L. He is a masterful storyteller and his recollections can be validated through published news reports and official records of that time. Author Julian Adam Mohr painstakingly researched the truth and authenticity of Gildea's written word. Mohr loved history, which is evident in the time and energy he spent researching and compiling the data for this book; unfortunately, he passed away a few months prior to the book's release. Included is an alphabetized index where you will find the names of those individuals who served with the Battery L, as well as those who are mentioned in any one of Gildea's many anecdotes. An easy read laced with historical data, human interest stories and veiled humor.

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