Gottfried to speak on Civil War book Oct. 27

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:58

NEWTON - Dr. Bradley M. Gottfried, president of Sussex County Community College, will give a presentation on his new book, Kearny’s Own - The History of the First NJ Brigade in the Civil War at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 27, in the Theater at SCCC. The First N.J. Brigade was one of the few units that participated in virtually every campaign against the Confederate army in Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania from 1861 through 1865. Composed of soldiers from around the state, including Sussex County, the brigade established a distinguished record. In his presentation, Dr. Gottfried will tell the story of this outstanding fighting unit through the words of its soldiers. From the first battle at Bull Run to the surrender of Lee’s army at Appomattox four years later, only one federal infantry brigade experienced the entire Civil War as a cohesive unit. While most units were composed of regiments from different states that were disbanded after three years, the First N.J. Brigade was the enduring exception. Despite the group’s remarkable coherence, it started as many military units did during the early stages of the war - a disorganized, ragtag outfit that was poorly trained and ill-prepared for battle. This quickly changed, however, with the appointment of General Philip Kearny in the fall of 1861. Kearny transformed the troops, making them among the most disciplined and effective commands in the Army of the Potomac. A series of notable victories earned the soldiers an impressive reputation and, with it, thousands of others voluntarily came forward to enlist. Even when they suffered heavy losses, the N.J. regiments fought exceptionally well and served key roles in dozens of battles, including the Peninsula, Seven Days, Second Bull Run, Antietam, Chancellorsville, Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Cold Harbor, Early’s Valley, and the Petersburg campaigns. In Kearny’s Own, Gottfried weaves together compelling accounts of battles fought, with a wealth of letters and diaries to tell the story of this famous brigade from a uniquely personal perspective. The hopes, fears, and sorrows of the men come through vividly as accounts reveal how civilians were physically and emotionally transformed into soldiers. Primary sources also provide insight to what the war meant to the men who fought for the Union. Admission for the presentation and book signing is $3. The book will be available for purchase at a discounted price of $27. For information, call 973-300-2116.