Monday, April 16, 2007

Waring Manuscript Seeks Publisher

One of the great projects of J. Fred Waring's life was the research and writing of a regimental history of the Confederate unit in which his grandfather, Joseph Frederick Waring (1832-1876) was a colonel. This would be the Georgia Hussars, originally organized as a militia unit in Savannah in 1736. In 1861 the Georgia company joined with others from Mississippi and Alabama to form the "Jeff Davis Cavalry Legion."

Over a period of more than 30 years, Waring spent many of his summers working on his book. His intention was to compile a complete war record of this one Confederate regiment by locating the letters of its soldiers, and then letting excerpts from the letters themselves tell the story. It is a method that Ken Burns would use to great effect in his PBS documentary, The Civil War. It required an immense amount of field work. In a 1963 interview with the Akron Beacon Journal, Waring expressed concern about completing the project but stated that the book was nearing completion. However, it never reached publication.

Fred and Julianna Waring retired to Savannah in 1967. When Waring
died in 1972, he left his notes, transcripts, muster rolls, and manuscript to the Georgia Historical Society. In the fall of 2003, I had a chance to examine Waring's manuscript and notes and to discuss with the Georgia Historical Society Press the possibility of publishing his book. They expressed interest in the matter, but then no more came of this contact.

Waring's manuscript is complete and covers the Jeff Davis Legion's involvement in numerous campaigns including the Seven Days (1862), Brandy Station (1863), Gettysburg (1863), Bentonville (1865) and the surrender in April, 1865. There are five boxes of research notes organized by individual soldiers, components, and military actions, as well as handwritten transcripts of letters, biographical sketches and a number of photos.

Moving the manuscript to publication would be the perfect project for a dedicated historian. Anyone interested?