Fractured Paths of Duty
The Civil War Letters of Surgeon J. Dexter Cotton
& Adjutant George B. Turner, 92nd Ohio Volunteer Infantry
Edited with an Introduction by Richard A. Baumgartner
On Oct. 7, 1862, the 92nd Ohio Infantry Regiment marched "nicely and in good spirits" out of its camp of instruction at Marietta, Ohio, for the last time. Its yet unblooded soldiers, destined for the front, were "among our best citizens," declared a local newspaperman, who also reflected soberly: "It is not with a dry eye that these men go to the field. Many of our friends are in the regiment. What will be their fortunes? What the fate of the regiment? Who among these fine men will never again see home?"
Two of those leaving that day were Josiah Dexter Cotton and George Butler Turner -- one of them fated never to return. Although separated by nearly two decades in age and experience, they had much in common as both began their military service, first in western Virginia, later in Tennessee and Georgia under Gens. George Crook and John B. Turchin. They lived in the same town, had been educated at the same college, one graduating at the top of his class, the other second. They shared interests in literature and the fraternal company of fellow alums in the regiment. Mutual respect coursed between them. And they had left behind close, loving families.
Despite going off to war for different reasons, the two men assiduously placed duty at the forefront of their particular roles in the army -- Cotton as surgeon, and Turner as his company's first sergeant and later as regimental adjutant. Thankfully for the historical record, both composed a surviving wealth of well written, insightful, delightfully informative and descriptive letters during their service that compares favorably with some of the best collections of Civil War correspondence in print. With few exceptions, the 244 combined letters presented here were written to immediate family members, and in large measure tell the story of their regiment -- a valuable consideration since no formal history before has been published about the 92nd Ohio Volunteers.
Fractured Paths of Duty is the third volume in Blue Acorn Press' regimental letters series and was edited by Richard A. Baumgartner, an award-winning writer and historian who previously compiled and edited series titles The Bully Boys and Yankee Tigers II. He is the author of several other Civil War books, including Buckeye Blood: Ohio at Gettysburg, Kennesaw Mountain June 1864 and Blue Lightning: Wilder's Mounted Infantry Brigade in the Battle of Chickamauga, a recipient of the Alexander C. McClurg Award.
Hardcover with dust jacket, 512 pages, 55 photographs & illustrations, 5 maps, notes, bibliography, index. ISBN 978-1885033-39-0