“As the boats drew near the landing the big guns on this Point and Cairo spoke their welcome . . . in tones of thunder and it was returned by the guns of the City of Alton. . . .”
These words written by an anonymous soldier in the 11th Illinois Infantry only scratch the surface of the exciting story of the 11th Illinois and the generals who led them. This excerpt comes from Hard Dying Men: The Story of General W.H.L. Wallace, General T.E.G. Ransom, and Their “Old Eleventh” Illinois Infantry in the American Civil War (1861–1865) by Jim Huffstodt.
An exciting read, this will entertain Civil War aficionados, history buffs, and occasional readers alike. Huffstodt’s book does not read as a typical, stodgy history tome. The book is riveting and allows the reader to relive the triumphs and tribulations that our Illinois boys experienced. Generals Wallace and Ransom and the “Old Eleventh” were present for many of the Civil War’s most famous— or infamous—battles and events, including (but not only) the Battles of Shiloh and Vicksburg. These generals were highly regarded by some of the top men in the War: President Lincoln (Wallace was a friend and early supporter), Grant, Sherman, and others.
From the early mustering of the volunteer (yes, volunteer!) army from Cairo, Illinois, to the riverbank battles in Southern Illinois and Missouri, it is a darn good read. Illinoisans will love reading about the thunder of cannon and gunfire within our Illinois borders, and history buffs will relish the nuances of Missouri’s and southern Illinois’s stance on slavery and the war itself.
Huffstodt allows the reader to transcend the page and feel the muggy humidity, torrential rains, and mud of the Deep South. The cannon fire is deafening and battles exhilarating, yet the most fascinating aspect of the book is the glimpse into the minds and characters of the men and leaders. History involves dates and places, yet what makes history memorable is the look into the minds of the people who lived it. This is the accomplishment of Jim Huffstodt’s Hard Dying Men.
The Illinois Room in the Genealogy & Local History Library has shelves of books like this! We have books for all interests, including local history, state history, and family history. There is something for everyone at 401 State Street.