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Personal Accounts

Civil War personal accounts... the words of those who were actually there! Nothing helps one to learn about a subject more than first-hand accounts!

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Ugly Amazon Error page artAttention: You might see this ugly graphic, instead of the book cover which we have so carefully chosen for you to see. Alas, it means the book is not in print or Amazon is out of it NEW or something. It doesn't mean you cannot get it used, and often for CHEAPER... We will be going through and adding direct links to the book title itself, thus allowing you to get to the book's actual page and possibly even find it used. (I like used books!)
Co. Aytch: A Confederate's Memoir of the Civil War by Sam Watkins -- Early in May 1861, twenty-one-year-old Sam R. Watkins of Columbia, Tennessee, joined the First Tennessee Regiment, Company H, to fight for the Confederacy. Of the 120 original recruits in his company, Watkins was one of only seven to survive every one of its battles, from Shiloh to Nashville. Twenty years later, with a "house full of young 'rebels' clustering around my knees and bumping about my elbows," he wrote this remarkable account of "Co. Aytch" -- its common foot soldiers, its commanders, its Yankee enemies, its victories and defeats, and its ultimate surrender on April 26, 1865.

Co. Aytch is the work of a natural storyteller who balances the horror of war with an irrepressible sense of humor and a sharp eye for the lighter side of battle. Among Civil War memoirs, it is considered a classic -- a living testament to one man's enduring humanity, courage, and wisdom in the midst of death and destruction.

Corporal Si Klegg and his "Pard" -- Don't bring any expectations to this read. The less you expect... the more you will enjoy this "gem", written by an actual Civil War veteran, who served in the Ohio 65th Volunteer Infantry. Although the regiment in the story is fictitious and from Indiana instead of Ohio, its experiences, roughly follow the experiences of the author's factual regiment. The battles in the story, though purposely unnamed, will be identified by a knowlegeable reader as those fought by the Army of the Cumberland... including Stone's River, Chickamagua, Chatanooga and the Atlanta Campaign.

The book, as it's title states, is about the life of a volunteer soldier. And peppered throughout it's excellent narrative, is authentic, sincere and heartfelt dialogue. Dialogue, written in the style of the way the men spoke, with all the ye's, ter's and reckons included. It took a little while accustomising myself to it, but shortly afterwards, I enjoyed the dialogue so much that I started reading it out loud.

Josiah Klegg is a young, enthuisiastic and patriotic recruit, who is unwise in the ways of the army. And Shorty "his pard", whom Si meets shortly after enlisting (or 'listing as they call it) is a hardluck Huckleberry Finn character. Though having had a rough lot in life, Shorty is a quick thinker and wise to the ways of the world. The two of them are "stayers", and together, they travel the long hard (and often painful) path from inexperienced recruit to veteran soldier.

Their personalities play off each other wonderfully. Shorty tolerates Si, who is naive and never short for expressing an opinion. And Shorty, always faithful and yet slightly dower, is continually uplifted by Si's irrepressable enthusiam.

There is much in this story of interest for the Civil War buff, including detailed descriptions of marching (blisters and all), camp life, hospital scenes and actual combat. In the end, this story is about the bonds that tie men together. If it is at all possible to understand the feelings men had for each other, during that terrible interlude in American History, you'll get closest, reading this book.

Army Life: A Private's Reminiscence of the Civil War -- One of the most famous regiments of the Civil War was the 20th Regiment of Maine Volunteers. Formed in 1862, the regiment saw action in some of the fiercest campaigns and battles of the war; Fredericksburg, Gettysburg, the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Petersburg, Peebles Farm and Five Forks. It also was present at Antietam, Chancellorsville, Mine Run, North Anna, Bethesda Church, Gravelly Run and Appomattox, where it had the distinct honor of being of the regiments to formally receive the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia.

Originally commanded by Colonel Adelbert Ames, leadership of the regiment soon fell upon the shoulders of the most famous civilian soldier of the war -- Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain. At Gettysburg, Chamberlain and the 20th Maine anchored the Union line on Little Round Top and helped to save the day, and the battle, for the Federal cause. The regiment fought with excellence in several later campaigns but will always be known for its brilliant and gallant performance at Gettysburg, July 2, 1863.

After the war only one veteran of the unit attempted to chronicle the exploits of the 20th Maine Infantry. In 1882, Reverend Theodore Gerrish published "Army Life." Although there are brief, scattered accounts written by other veterans of the unit's wartime exploits, this remains the only full-length book, purposely published by a 20th Maine veteran.

The Blue and the Gray: The Story of the Civil War As Told by Participants : The Battle of Gettysburg to Appomattox (The Classic History of the Civil War , Vol 2) by Henry Steele Commager
-- This one is a two Volume Set - with Volume 1 starting with the nomination of Abraham Lincoln as President of the US and follows the events to the bloody three-day battle of Gettysburg, the highwater mark of the Confederacy. Volume 2 takes us from the aftermath of Gettysburg and follows the war to Lee's surrender at Appomattox.

The works are surprisingly slim considering what it covers, so this is not an in-depth look at the War Between the States. It does however give a gold mine of details. For someone looking to understand the war, its causes and the people that fought it, this is a wonderful place to start.

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