Wednesday, September 4, 2013

An Intimate Glimpse of Families Wrenched by the Civil War

From the Lincolns and the Grants to the Loughridges and Erskines, families suffered during the civil war through the loss of family members, property, and jobs. Ural tells the story of the Civil War chronologically, but intersperses the descriptions of political maneuverings and battles with the letters and stories of real people. Soldiers wrote letters home and wives and families responded sometimes bravely, sometimes with complaints and a plea to come home.

The book is filled with human interest. The Loughridge girls sending kisses to their father and begging him to come home on a furlough. The search for a nameless soldier who died clutching the picture of his three children. He turned out to be Amos Humiston. But perhaps the most devastating chapters are at the end where Ural describes the murderous attack on Seward and the death of Lincoln.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone interested in the Civil War. I've read several books about the War Between the States, but this is the first book to let me clearly see the families and the struggles on the home front. Some of the stories of the slaves who ran away to join the Union Army are also troubling. The family of one soldier was turned out of their quarters in the bitter cold of November. All of them died.

I highly recommend this book for the excellent historical research, but also for the human feelings. It is definitely a book worth reading and the illustrations are excellent. I was particularly pleased that in the conclusion, Ural told the stories of what happened to the families after the war. There were some marvelous success stories again showing the resilience of humans.

I reviewed this book for Net Galley.