Book Review: Civil War Soldiers, Their Declarations and Their Expectations by Reid Mitchell
Not available on Kindle
Published by Viking Penguin Group in 1988/288 pages
I love to read books by historical researchers that do not just give information from what they've studied, but they give the voice from those that lived through the historical period.
In Civil War Soldiers the book is almost entirely the voices of the soldiers from the Civil War, both from the North and from the South, from the private to the officer. Their voices are from the letters and diaries that were kept by these men.
Their feelings are expressed about the food they ate, their clothing, missing their families, how they felt about the war itself and their enemy.
I was most interested by their pre-conceived ideas about each other.
The Northern soldiers were shocked and horrified by the living conditions of the southern peoples. That a slave owner may own several slaves for farming yet live in a small and sparsely furnished home. The Southern slave owner was cashed out on the slaves he owned.
The Northern soldier also saw many of the whites they encountered to be small in intelligence and filthy.
Whereas the Southern soldier when they were in a Northern state such as Pennsylvania thought that the people they saw were ugly and filthy.
There was much prejudice and even odd beliefs held about each other.
I think the most shocking of all that I read is that most of the northern soldiers, even though they were fighting a war they believed to be justified, did not agree in emancipation because they did not know and even feared what would become of the slaves that were now free.
I found this book to be fascinating. I felt that the book was alive with the voice of men that fought in a war long ago and still seared in to the minds of Americans.