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Posted August 19, 2011
This book is much more than a look at a key battle during the civil war. This book, targeted to grades 3-6, provides a wonderfully robust overview of what the civil war was about, and what fanned the flames of the battles that tore the new country apart.
Of the 48 total pages, only a handful are focused on the key battle at Fredericksburg. The book points out that there were numerous skirmishes, run-ins and battles at and near the strategically placed town in northern Virginia, which is only 50 miles from the capital cities of both the North (D.C.) and South (Richmond).
The book is enhanced by many full color photos of a myriad of reenactments...soldiers in battle, as well as civilians in different situations. But the real win of the book is the incorporation of text pulled from letters and memoirs from those that were there.
Taken from the writings of one John Washington, a slave who fled to the safety of Union soldiers during the battle, we learn first-hand what it was like: "...in an instant all Was Wild confusion as a calvaryman dashed into the Dining Room and said 'the yankees is in Falmouth..." Author Kostyal chose to reprint Washington's writings with no editing which gives the reading a very real vibe.
A white woman who fled from Frereicksburg as the battle was starting wrote, "I am afraid of the lawless Yankee Soldiers but that is nothing to my fear of the negroes if they should rise against us."
The quotes add a vivid realism to this rather simple book, and combined with the photos fulfill a very "National Geographic" look at history.
Kostyal writes about slavery and writes about it's role in dividing the country. She also writes on the battle itself which the South won by killing 13,000 Union soldiers.
I highly recommend this book.