Genre: Civil War History
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.
Oh, this terrible war," wrote Thomas Gaillard. "Who can measure the troubles -- the affliction -- it has brought upon us all?" To this real-time anguish in voices from the past, Gaillard offers a personal remembrance of the shadow of war and its place in the haunted identity of the South. "My own generation," he writes, "was, perhaps, the last that was raised on stories of gallantry and courage, an admiration of the dashing generals who led our fighting men into battle, and whose heroism was undiminished by defeat. Oddly, mine was also the one of the first generations to view the Civil War through the lens of civil rights--to see, often quite reluctantly, connections and flaws in southern history that earlier generations couldn't bear to face.
The author used letters from her own ancestor to create this book. This is the most realistic depiction of of what it was like to be on the battlefield. No movie could ever depict how horrible this war was. It was made clear in the letters that you did what you had to do to survive. Franklin Gaillard spoke of what it was like when he entered the war. He said the sight of blood and dead men turned his stomach. Then in a letter to his father he wrote that thirst would do funny things to you. He gathered canteens and found one on the body of a dead man. It was covered in blood. His thirst was so bad he tipped it so that he was pouring from the side with no blood on it and drank. He also spoke about the likes told throughout both sides. When he brought water to the injured, captured enemies they were surprised. They had been told how vicious the Confederates were. It was heart wrenching to read a letter to a young son telling him what he wanted from him in case he should be killed. Even from the war front fathers tried to mentor and teach their children.
These letters give the reader a look into the life of just a few soldiers and their family members during this trying time. We look at the way they lived, their spiritual life and in some cases the way they died. This is an excellent source that should be required primary source reading in schools. I am grateful I was given the opportunity to read and review this book.