Heroes of Peace is a Fascinating Read!
Heroes of Peace – Book Review
Heroes of Peace – A History of the Third Kentucky Infantry in the Spanish-American War Colonel Greg Eanes, USAF (Retired), The Eanes Group, LLC. 2016 200 pages Paperback $18.95 ISBN 9781530755349
Colonel Greg Eanes has written a fascinating look at the shaping of a fighting unit from disparate national guardsmen who still held resentments stemming from the American Civil War only 35 years before. His tightly written book, Heroes of Peace – A History of the Third Kentucky Infantry in the Spanish-American War features informative narration backed up by quotations from contemporary newspaper articles as well as first person accounts reprinted from letters and diaries. Plenty of footnotes offer citations as to source materials. In addition, three appendixes offer a chronology of the Spanish American War which focuses on the Third Kentucky, Division and Brigade Organization tables of the Third KY and a Regimental Roster of the Third KY. A complete Bibliography end caps the book.
When the USS Maine was sunk in Havana Harbor in Cuba on February 15, 1898, President William McKinley asked Congress for a declaration of war against Spain, the colonial power which held Cuba as a colony. Various National Guard units were mobilized and nationalized for service in Cuba. The Third Kentucky was one such unit. With resentment over the Civil War as well as local prejudices, the units cohesion was hardly what could be called strong.
Colonel Eanes’ diligent research in to family letters and newspaper articles from the time shows that the more humans change, the more we stay the same. As the Third Kentucky was mobilized for service in Cuba, local politics and prejudice strained the temperaments of even the most level headed folks. While marshaling in Lexington, Kentucky, the volunteer infantry unit was being honed back in to battle worthy discipline but the independent nature of the troops could not always be contained. For example, when Noel Gaines, a 29 year old who had served in the militia for 13 years, took command of the detachment of the Guard, Gaines was accused by some of the Third as being “unfit to command a company of gentlemen or even their associates” owing to the fact that Gaines was not only form another part of the State of Kentucky but also owing to the belief that he was given command solely owing to political favoritism.
While the Third was waiting for deployment, their home camp, Camp Thomas, became the front of a new war – the war against disease. Typhoid fever began to run rampant in the spring and summer and Army medical doctors were given the chance to establish new policies and procedures to fight this war using “modern” medicine and science.
While most of the men pined either for their families or for action in an exotic foreign country, the war against disease took its toll. In addition, the unit lost lives owing to fights within the ranks and to transportation accidents.
It is these mundane, daily struggles which are most often ignored by other authors but which illustrate the human elements of history. Colonel Eanes expertly illustrates these struggles and brings the story of these men to live.
As this article from the Paducah Daily Sun reported on November 1st, 1898, the men of the Third were sitting around the camp “anxious to make a reputation in the war which will make all Kentuckians feel proud of them.”
When the Third Kentucky finally was mobilized to Cuba, the war had ended but the humanitarian work by the Third Kentucky was just as important as any battle record and truly puts a shine on the honor of these brave men.
Copious illustrations and photographic reproductions round out this fascinating look at the Third Kentucky. They were truly “Heroes of Peace” and their story is now recorded for posterity in Colonel Eanes fascinating book!
About the Author
A college film instructor and small business owner, Richard Martin has also worked in the legal and real estate professions, is involved in video production, film criticism, sports shooting and is an avid World War I and II gamer who can remember war games which came in plastic bags and cost $2.99 (he’s really that old)!