Civil War Scoundrels and the Texas Cotton Trade;The Chicago Board of Trade Battery in the Civil War  ;The 6th Michigan Volunteer Infantry in the Civil War;The 117th New York Infantry in the Civil War

Being there . . . . that is, if you welcomed and enjoyed yesterday’s column featuring four
biographies of Civil War generals, three Union and one Confederate. When read, their accounts
of long months, nay, four or five years of fighting service, will provide serious war buffs, or
casual but somewhat interested readers, with rare insights into both mild arrogance and hard
insecurities found in high leadership positions whether their own, or fellow generals and each
of their staffs. Today’s Part Two of this reviewer’s introductions to their lengthy lives focuses
upon two other noble contributors to the eventual Union victory, the unknown Chicago Board
of Trade Battery and the 117th New York Infantry. Each legendary in its state of birth, “honor,
drive, and truth” could well have been their respective mottos, the Chicago Board of Trade
members and the 117th troopers fought just as viciously for “Old Abe” and the Union as all the
other state regiments, agencies, and volunteer groups, loyalty and honesty being the core of
each heart. Being American, their chronologies of battle events, whether fought by Northerners
or Southerners were the same, i.e., despite death and destruction as normal as breathing,
laughter, constant irritations, endless indignities, and most important of all, shrewd observation
skills. Hence, the need to throw in one book that appalls, angers, disgusts, i.e., the seedy side of
criminality, the grifters, the cheap crooked frauds. While good men died, most believing in their
causes, scoundrels schemed and skedaddled . . . .
Reviewed and Highly Recommended by Don DeNevi
“CIVIL WAR SCOUNDRELS and the TEXAS COTTON TRADE”, by Walter E. Wilson. McFarland &
Company, Inc., Publishers: 2020, 215 pages, 5 ¾” x 9 ¾”, softcover; $39.95. Visit,
“A masterful and meticulously wrought account of frontier grifter Harris Hoyt’s Texas
adventure, a sprawling Civil War swindle featuring a motley cohort of scamsters and crooked
public officials.”
Stephen G. Michaud, author of DARK DREAMS and THE ONLY LIVING WITNESS
During the Civil War, scoundrels from both sides cooked by schemes to acquire Texas cotton.
Texas was the only Confederate state that bordered a neutral country, and it was never forcibly
conquered. Its coast was impossible to effectively blockade.
Using little known contemporary sources, author Walter Wilson’s book reveals how
charlatans exploited these conditions to run the blockade, import machinery and weapons, and
defraud that state’s readers in the process. Best know for his role in the romantic
entanglements of his co-conspirator William Sprague, Harris Hoyt stands out due to his sharp
intellect and fascinating character. Hoyt was able to deceive most of Abraham Lincoln’s inner
circle and even influenced the impeachment of President Andrew Johnson. This is the first
account to expose in full the many Texas cotton trading scams and the audacity of t hose who

profited from them but escaped the gallows. Author Walter E. Wilson, a retired Navy Captain
and former head of U.S. Naval Intelligence operations in Europe, has authored numerous
articles and reviews.
“THE CHICAGO BOARD of TRADE BATTERY in the CIVIL WAR”, by Dennis W. Belcher. McFarland
& Company, Inc., Publishers: 2022, 379 pages, 7”x 10”, softcover, $39.95. Visit,
In July 1862, the Chicago board of Trade used its influence to organize perhaps the most
prominent Union artillery unit in the Western Theater. Enlistees were Chicagoans, mainly
clerks. The battery was involved in 11 major Civil War battles, 26 minor battles and 42
skirmishes. They held the center at Stones River, repulsing a furious Confederate attack. They
then joined 50 other Union guns in stopping one of the most dramatic offensives in the
Western Theater. With Colonel Robert Minty’s cavalry, they resisted an overwhelming assault
along the Chickamauga Creek. Author Dennis Belcher’s history chronicles the actions of the
Board of Trade Independent Light Artillery at the battles of Farmington, Dallas, Noonday Creek,
Atlanta, in Kilpatrick’s Raid, and at Nashville, and Selma. Author Belcher has edited or authored
nine books on the Civil War and has published in the “North & South Magazine”.
“THE 117 th NEW YORK INFANTRY IN THE CIVIL WAR, A History and Roster”, by James S. Pula.
McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers: 2023, 336 pages, 7”x 10”, softcover, $49.95. Visit,
James S. Pula, a professor emeritus of history at Purdue University Northwest, as well as
author of innumerable books and scholarly articles, to say little about the numerous
distinguished awards, prizes, and Crosses, has provided one of the best unit histories of the Civil
War. And, what a story that history is. The troopers of the 117 th fought in the defense of
Washington in September of 1862 and concluded shooting in the Carolinas in April of 1865.
They fought on the Virginia Peninsula in 1863, Cold Harbor and the Siege of Petersburg in 1864,
and Fort Fisher and North Carolina when the war ended on Monday, April 10 th , 1865. So much
can be said about author Pula’s mini masterpiece. In this humble reviewer’s opinion, he
deserves to stand shoulder to shoulder next to Shelby Foote. Those who confirm include
Christian B. Keller, professor of history, U.S. Army War College, “One of the most enthralling
histories in the last two decades, sparkling detail, good history, and a crackling great story.”
John Michael Priest, author of “Antietam: The Soldiers’ Battle”, echoes, “I thoroughly enjoyed it
and believes this work fills a void in the history of the forgotten places in the war.” And, prize-
winning Ralph Peters, author of “Cain at Gettysburg”, seems to sum it all up, “Magnificent . . . I
cannot see how any regimental history could better portray the reality of the resilient, devoted
Union soldier than the book in your hand.”