A Grand Terrible Dramma: From Gettysburg to Petersburg: The Civil War Letters of Charles Wellington Reed

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This extensive and unique collection, consisting of over 180 letters and hundreds of drawings, covers Reed's period of service (1862-65) and provides the modern reader a wealth of information on the role of the Union army in the eastern theater, the events in the life of the Civil War soldier, and the war in general. A native of Boston, Reed served as bugler of the Ninth Massachusetts Battery, whose desperate holding action at Gettysburg ranks as one the most heroic actions of the war. During this battle Reed performed a deed of selfless bravery by saving his wounded captain from between the lines, an act for which he was later awarded the Medal of Honor. In addition to Gettysburg, Reed saw action in nearly all of the battles in the East from 1862 to 1865, including Bristoe Station, Mine Run, the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, North Ana, Bethesda Church, Cold Harbor, and the siege of Petersburg.Reed's letters chronicle events, from the most common to the extraordinary, with simple yet thoughtful eloquence. His drawings capture a wide variety of events to which he was not only an eyewitness but also a participant. His talent was considered equal to that of leading newspaper artists of his day, and his drawings were used to illustrate a best-selling Civil War book, Hardtack and Coffee (1887). We are fortunate that Reed's writings and drawings have been preserved, and can be presented here in a single volume.

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Editorial Reviews

A collection of some 180 letters and hundreds of drawings, covering artist Charles Wellington Reed's period of service (1862-65) in the Civil War and providing a wealth of information on the role of the Union army in the eastern theater, events in the life of the Civil War soldier, and the war in general. Reed served as bugler of the Ninth Massachusetts Battery. In addition to Gettysburg, he saw action in nearly all of the battles in the east. Campbell is a Park Ranger- Historian for the National Park Service. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
From The Critics
"A Grand Terrible Dramma": From Gettysburg To Petersburg, The Civil War Letters Of Charles Wellington Reed consists of more than 180 letters and hundreds of drawings covering Charles Reed's period of military service as a member of the Massachusetts volunteers in the American Civil War from 1862 to 1865. This fascinating compendium, ably edited by Eric Campbell, presents the contemporary student of the Civil War with a wealth of information on the role of the Union army in the eastern theater, the events in the life of a typical Civil War soldier, as well as the progress and of the war itself. Reed's letters chronicle the common and the extraordinary with a simple, thoughtful elegance. His drawings capture a wide variety of events to which he was a participant. "A Grand Terrible Dramma" is an outstanding, invaluable, core title addition to any personal, professional, academic, or community library Civil War studies collection.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780823219711
  • Publisher: Fordham University Press
  • Publication date: 1/1/2000
  • Series: North's Civil War Series
  • Pages: 402
  • Product dimensions: 10.00 (w) x 7.20 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

James Campbell is Professor of Medieval History at the University of Oxford.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 24, 2001

    A 'Letters' Book Plus A Lot More

    The author did a lot of research on the references in Charles Reed's letters. And instead of putting the notes at the end of the book where few read them, the notes are in the margins. It really added to the understanding of what Reed was writing home about. The author also incorporates the drawings from Reed which further adds to the book. Also incorporated are Reed's diary entries. The overall package made this an outstanding and enjoyable read. This book should be the model for all future books of this type.

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