In the years following the American Civil War, many participants—generals, politicians, journalists, and soldiers—authored first-hand accounts of their unique experiences. As Alfred E. Smith of the Library of Congress wrote in 1998, “No chapter of American history has been so voluminously recorded.” While the quality and reliability of the memoirs varies, a large number provide important perspectives that, taken together, offer vivid descriptions of major battles, political developments, and other momentous events from Fort Sumter to Appomattox.
In Remembering the Civil War, historians Michael Barton and Charles Kupfer carefully assemble excerpts from the memoirs of key participants and weave them together to tell the story of the war in a single volume. Contributors include Union generals Ulysses Grant, James Longstreet, Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, W.T. Sherman, George McClellan, and future president James A. Garfield. Confederate authors include Robert E. Lee, Nathan Bedford Forrest, Edward Porter Alexander, J.B. Hood, Jubal Early, and Jefferson Davis. Diaries and letters provide soldiers’ perspectives of what fighting was like on the ground. A comprehensive introduction and headnote for each excerpt provide background information and context.
Michael L.Barton is professor emeritus of American Studies at Penn State Harrisburg. His Civil War books include Goodmen: The Character of Civil War Soldiers; The Civil War Soldier: A Historical Reader; and The Civil War Veteran: A Historical Reader. Charles D. Kupfer is associate professor of American Studies, School of Humanities, and Director, Center for Holocaust and Jewish Studies, at Penn State Harrisburg. He is the author of two books on military history: We Felt the Flames: Hitler's Blitzkrieg, America's Story and Indomitable Will: Turning Defeat into Victory from Pearl Harbor to Midway.