Title: Book focuses on W.Va. National Guard
Author: Jesse Mancini
Publisher: News and Sentinel
A decorated Civil War historian from Wood County has written a book about the West Virginia National Guard.
"This is kind of a change of venue for me," said Brian Stuart Kesterson of Lubeck.
Cochran said Arcadia Publishing contacted him last year after the publishing house learned he had acquired a hoard of photographs of the National Guard taken from 1898 to 1919 that were once owned by Fred Cochran, a Parkersburg city councilman who died in the late 1950s. Kesterson said he found the pictures while he was shopping for antiques in 1997.
The end result was "West Virginia National Guard: 1898-1919," which goes on sale on May 25.
The photographs were found in 1997 by a man walking on Quincy Street in rubbish put on the street to be hauled away, Kesterson said. The photos were sold to the Athens dealer, he said.
"Lo and behold, I came along about a month later,'' Kesterson said.
It's an impressive collection of photographs, said Joe Geiger, director of Archives and History with the West Virginia Division of Culture and History.
"In fact, we're trying to get Mr. Kesterson to do a lecture at the state archives library,'' Geiger said.
Cochran was a lieutenant in the 2nd West Virginia National Guard. He appears in many of the photographs.
The book contains most of the photographs from Cochran's collection. Photographs included are of soldiers while on maneuvers at various camps in West Virginia and other states and while they were deployed in Texas to protect the border with Mexico when Gen. John J. "Blackjack" Pershing led the 1916-17 U.S. expedition to bring the Mexican outlaw Pancho Villa to justice.
Most Guard units didn't enter Mexico, Kesteron said. Their deployment was to protect the border at the Rio Grande River, he said.
"Very few National Guard units participated in the actual campaign," Kesterson said.
Others from Parkersburg in the photos are Capt. Charles Bell, Capt. Charles S. Jackson and Capt. Walter W. White, Kesterson said.
Research sources who helped identify photos included Kenneth R. Baily of Charleston, who wrote a history of the National Guard in the 1970s that was recently updated, and John S.D. Eisenhower, the son of Dwight D. Eisenhower, president and supreme allied commander in World War II.
"He was very interested in this project," Kesterson said.
The genesis of the book came when Arcadia learned Kesterson had the collection of photographs and was going to compile them for a book.
"They said they'd like to do that for me," he said.
Kesterson is a substitute teacher in Wood County and teaches history and English literature. He has written numerous books and articles about the Civil War.
In 2007, he was presented the Jefferson Davis Historical Gold Medal Award by the United Daughters of the Confederacy. Kesterson has also participated in several documentaries on the History Channel.
He is writing a book from the Civil War letters and diaries of Capt. Bennett Munger of Company C, 44th New York State Volunteer Infantry. Munger upon mustering out of the army became an inspector investigating atrocities at Elmira (N.Y.) Prison, the north's version of the south's Andersonville, only worse, Kesterson said.
Kesterson said he has documented from letters that the union was killing Confederate prisoners with poison and purposely starving them to death, among other unspeakable atrocities.
"It goes to show man's inhumanity to man," he said.
Munger's probe brought the atrocities out into the open while the government tried to cover them up, Kesterson said.