Book Review – The 7th Tennessee Infantry in the Civil War

Posted on Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

John Michael Priest reviews The 7th Tennessee Infantry in the Civil War.

The award winning Civil War Historian John Michael Priest reviewed The 7th Tennessee Infantry in the Civil War in “Civil War News.”

Civil War News

December 2013

The 7th Tennessee Infantry in the Civil War: a History and Roster. By William Thomas Venner. Maps, photos, notes, bibliography, index, 234 pp., 2013, McFarlane,, softcover $39.95.

William Venner has written another regimental history, not as huge as Hoosiers’ Honor (Burd Street Press, 1998), but just as important. The Confederate 7th Tennessee served in the East throughout the war, from Seven Pines in May 1862 through the surrender of its arms at Appomattox in April 1865.

It opened the battle of Gettysburg against the Federal cavalry on July 1, 1863, and participated in the ill-fated Pickett’s Charge two days later. Wherever it went, the regiment generally landed in the thick of the fighting.

Using many previously untapped sources, Venner thoroughly researched the 7th Tennessee. Good, clear, basic battle maps, in impressive number of soldiers’ photographs, and a very good roster make this work a solid candidate for any Civil War enthusiast’s library.

The 7th Tennessee infantry in the Civil War, packed with daily entries and letters, surpasses the average superficial Confederate regimental. The author did his research and did it well.

Because Venner wrote a great deal of the work in the passive voice, it is a little tedious to read. The roster, while excellent, needs a table at the end, summarizing the losses by battle or campaign with the standard summary of combat and noncombat related fatalities. The index needs to have more topical entries such as ‘casualties’, ‘uniforms’, or ‘deaths from disease’ in it – more than the names of the men in the regiment.

Despite these observations, which an editor should have brought to the author’s attention, this book is a good history of a tough regiment and its travails.

— John Michael Priest

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