September 20, 2008

Major-General Hiram G. Berry

My local library called today with the good news that their inter-library loan department was able to obtain a copy of Major-General Hiram G. Berry by Edward K. Gould for me. I was pleasantly surprised for, despite my library's wonderful efficiency in such matters, this is a truly rare, 100-year-old book that has never been reprinted. Most libraries are not prone to lending out such volumes, nevertheless the Worcester (Mass.) Free Public Library stepped up and delivered the goods. More than just a biography, it also contains a good amount of Berry's Civil War correspondence, which I certainly wanted to look at as part of my O. M. Poe research.

Berry started the war as colonel of the 4th Maine volunteers. He was promoted to brigadier general and then led a brigade in Kearny's division, Heintzelman's Corp during the Peninsula Campaign. Illness sent him home for much of the summer and fall 1862 but returned to his command in time for Fredericksburg. He was promoted to major general, taking over Joseph Hooker's division after Fighting Joe was promoted to AOP command. Berry was killed at the head of his command during the battle of Chancellorsville.

I don't ever recall seeing a copy of this book at any book fair or on a bookstore's shelves for that matter. Currently, there is only one copy offered for sale at ABE and it has an asking price of $225. Truly a desirable book for any Civil War library.

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