A Swallow Press Book

The Untried Life — 2012

The Twenty-Ninth Ohio Volunteer Infantry in the Civil War

By James T. Fritsch

“James Fritsch has written more than simply a regimental history of the 29th Ohio Infantry. Through his skill as a writer and researcher he breathes life into these young men from Ohio and we feel their hopes and joys, fear and suffering, through four years of war as if we were one of them. This is history at its best.”

D. Scott Hartwig, historian, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

“This book is an excellent reminder that the Civil War was an extraordinary national struggle but…was also an individual struggle for men in the ranks and those left at home.”

Ohio History

“The reader who buys this book will be rewarded with a wealth of information that sheds light not only on the experiences of the 29th Ohio but likely applies in many respects to Federal infantry units across the board. This up-close examination of a Civil War regiment is strongly recommended.”

Civil War News

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Told in unflinching detail, this is the story of the Twenty-Ninth Ohio Volunteer Infantry, also known as the Giddings Regiment or the Abolition Regiment, after its founder, radical abolitionist Congressman J. R. Giddings. The men who enlisted in the Twenty- Ninth OVI were, according to its lore, handpicked to ensure each was as pure in his antislavery beliefs as its founder. Whether these soldiers would fight harder than other soldiers, and whether the people of their hometowns would remain devoted to the ideals of the regiment, were questions that could only be tested by the experiment of war.

The Untried Life is the story of these men from their very first regimental formation in a county fairground to the devastation of Gettysburg and the march to Atlanta and back again, enduring disease and Confederate prisons. It brings to vivid life the comradeship and loneliness that pervaded their days on the march. Dozens of unforgettable characters emerge, animated by their own letters and diaries: Corporal Nathan Parmenter, whose modest upbringing belies the eloquence of his writings; Colonel Lewis Buckley, one of the Twenty-Ninth’s most charismatic officers; and Chaplain Lyman Ames, whose care of the sick and wounded challenged his spiritual beliefs.

The Untried Life shows how the common soldier lived­—his entertainments, methods of cooking, medical treatment, and struggle to maintain family connections­—and separates the facts from the mythology created in the decades after the war.


Picture of James T. Fritsch

James T. Fritsch devoted fifteen years to researching the story of the Twenty-Ninth Ohio Volunteer Infantry. He lives in Scottsdale, Arizona.