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New Books: Union Colonels and White House Souvenirs

Final Installment of Colonels

In 2001, Roger D. Hunt embarked on an ambitious mission with the publication of his first volume of colonels in the U.S. army during the Civil War. Thus began the landmark biographical dictionary Colonels in Blue.

This year marks the publication of the seventh and final volume. Colonels in Blue: U.S. Colored Troops, U.S. Armed Forces, Staff Officers and Special Units follows the same approach as the other six volumes: The officer’s name, a summary of his military service, an outline of his life and a bibliography. Most of the biographies also include a prewar, wartime or postwar portrait of the subject.

The largest single section, more than a third, is dedicated to the U.S. Colored Troops. The rest includes smaller but no less relevant groupings: Armed Forces, Marine Corps, Sharpshooters, Veteran Volunteers, Volunteers, Veteran Reserve Corps, Aides de Camp and Quartermasters, Commissaries of Subsistence and miscellaneous organizations.

Researching and writing a non-fiction book is a team sport. Archivists, curators, librarians and a host of individuals helpful in ways large and small. Hunt recognizes all of these contributors in the introduction. He singles out one person for special mention, his mentor and the late Civil War photo historian, Henry Deeks.

Hunt’s first published success, Brevet Brigadier Generals in Blue with co-author Jack R. Brown, profiled 1,400 officers. Brigadiers provided Hunt with the experience and confidence to take on Colonels. The result, seven volumes totaling 1,950 pages, is an achievement that demands recognition for Hunt’s dedication and vision. Colonels in Blue is a contribution to Civil War scholarship that will benefit future researchers and others seeking to explore the lives and experiences of this unique cadre of senior officers.

Credit is also due to two companies that believed in Hunt’s dream: Schiffer published the first two volumes and McFarland the remaining five.

Colonels in Blue is an indispensable research tool for any serious student of the Civil War.

Colonels in Blue: U.S. Colored Troops, U.S. Armed Forces, Staff Officers and Special Units
By Roger D. Hunt
321 pages
McFarland & Company, Inc.
Softcover (available through major booksellers and

White House Renovation Souvenirs

Presidents James Buchanan, Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson led the country through a period of unrivaled instability. They did this in the White House, which happened to be in relatively stable condition. It provided a sanctuary for them and their families through tough times.

It wasn’t always this way. A half century before the Civil War, the British army famously torched the building, leaving charred timbers and a major reconstruction in its wake. Less than a half century after President Johnson left office, the first in a series of major restorations and renovations occurred during the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt in 1902; Calvin Coolidge in 1927; and Harry S Truman from 1948-1952.

These events made the White House the building it is today. They also resulted in souvenirs crafted from wood, stone and other construction debris. Enterprising individuals created canes, furniture, gavels, goblets and other knick-knacks. They did so with the same impulses that drove US and CS soldiers and sailors, and postwar veterans, to carve trinkets out of remembrance or perhaps boredom.

In White House Renovation Souvenirs, Wayne Smith breaks down the various constructions of the iconic residence and highlights souvenirs connected to them. A lifelong collector with a history degree from the University of Maryland, Smith brings his passion for relics and preservation to bear on this genre of souvenirs.

Smith begins the preface, “History is my passion, I am a collector.” What follows is an engaging account through a collector’s eye of White House history, richly illustrated with photographs and images of souvenirs. They include bookends made of plaster ornaments from the State Dining Room ceiling, a clock inset into a hunk of burned timber, a wood paperweight inset with a medallion of President Truman, an ashtray and lighter set, and more.

Smith’s depth of knowledge is evident on every page. His passion for collecting will resonate with all who do, no matter your focus. Pick up a copy for your personal library or as a gift for anyone interested in the White House or the nation’s capital.

White House Renovation Souvenirs: Souvenirs, Relics and Mementoes of the President’s House
By Wayne Smith
202 pages
Glade Valley History Press
Hardcover (available through major booksellers and

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