Best Little Stories from the Civil War: More than 100 true stories [NOOK Book]

Overview

"This fascinating book will make the Civil War come alive with thoughts and feelings of real people."

  • The Midwest Book Review

The Civil WAR You Never Knew...
Behind the bloody battles, strategic marches, and decorated generals lie more than 100 intensely personal, true stories you haven't heard before. In Best Little Stories from the Civil War, soldiers describe their first experiences in battle, women ...

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Best Little Stories from the Civil War: More than 100 true stories

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Overview

"This fascinating book will make the Civil War come alive with thoughts and feelings of real people."

  • The Midwest Book Review

The Civil WAR You Never Knew...
Behind the bloody battles, strategic marches, and decorated generals lie more than 100 intensely personal, true stories you haven't heard before. In Best Little Stories from the Civil War, soldiers describe their first experiences in battle, women observe the advances and retreats of armies, spies recount their methods, and leaders reveal the reasoning behind many of their public actions. Fascinating characters come to life, including:

Former U.S. Senator Robert Toombs of Georgia, who warned the Confederate cabinet not to fall for Lincoln's trap by firing on reinforcements, thereby allowing Lincoln to claim the South had fired the first shots of the war at Fort Sumter.

Brig. Gen. Stephen A. Hurlbut, who disbanded the 13th Independent Battery, Ohio Light Artillery, scattered its men, gave its guns to other units, and ordered its officers home, accusing all of cowardly performance in battle.

Thomas N. Conrad, a Confederate spy operating in Washington, who warned Richmond of both the looming Federal Peninsula campaign in the spring of 1863 and the attack at Fredericksburg later that year.

Private Franklin Thomson of Michigan, born as Sarah Emma Edmonds, who fought in uniform for the Union during the war and later was the only female member of the postwar Union Grand Army of the Republic.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781402247101
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 3/1/2010
  • Series: Best Little Stories, #0
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 464,417
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

C. Brian Kelly, a prize-winning journalist, is cofounder of Montpelier Publishing and a columnist and editor emeritus for Military History magazine. He is also a lecturer in newswriting at the University of Virginia. Kelly's articles have appeared in Reader's Digest, Friends, Yankee, Rod Serling's Twilight Zone, and other magazines. He is the author of several books on American history and resides in Charlottesville, Virginia.


C. BRIAN KELLY, a prize-winning journalist, is cofounder of Montpelier Publishing and a former editor for Military History magazine. He is also a lecturer in newswriting at the University of Virginia. Kelly's articles have appeared in Reader's Digest, Friends, Yankee, Rod Serling's Twilight Zone, and other magazines. He is the author of several books on American history and resides in Charlottesville, Virginia.
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Read an Excerpt

Excerpt from the Introduction


Here's our premise: History can be told in little bits and pieces as well as in heavyweight and multi-volume tomes.


All too often, even the best recitals of great events can overlook the basic human story lurking behind those same great events. And that's where our series of Best Little Stories historical books comes into the picture. That's us-history as short, narrative bits.


But...can that work?


Reviewer Craig. K. Allen seemed to think so, seemed to catch both the intent and flavor of our approach in the Macon (Georgia) Telegraph when he described our Best Little Stories from the White House as "a genre not quite practiced by anyone else" and said the book's stories "possess the immediacy of a front-page newspaper article."


Also gratifying was the reaction of Bill Ruelhmann, Books columnist at the Norfolk (Virginia) Virginian Pilot, back in 2002 to our newly published Best Little Stories from the Wild West. Our digging for "historical gold" in "mundane earth," he wrote at that time, had enabled us to "prise forth glittering nuggets of nifty narrative that, packed tight in the thick treasure boxes of their paperbound anthologies, make for truly priceless reading."


Thanks of course to Craig and Bill. But how does it work, you may be asking. Best Little Stories, we say? Exactly what does that mean? Well, as I wrote in an earlier edition of this, the first of our three Best Little Stories Civil War books, I once was a newspaperman. I always looked for the good, i.e., the best, story. Be it cheerful, light and frothy, or hard-hitting, sad, poignant-it didn't matter. Just the good story. The kind the reader would read. No "message," just the unusual, the obscure, the fascinating...the gripping, the touching human story. When I turned to history as the first editor of Military History and World War II magazines, I was inclined from the start to treat history as journalism-to look for the little nuggets gleaming with pathos, cheer, tragedy, irony-the human-interest stories in history.


Together with my wife and book collaborator Ingrid, I came to call them Best Little Stories in this and our companion historical books (there are nine total as of this writing). Little in part because, yes, the stories may be shorter than historical accounts. But also because in most cases, they focus more on the individual person at, say, Gettysburg, rather than simply report the size of the armies, who won the battle and how they did so.


Rather than write a straightforward, fact-filled-but potentially dull-short biography of U. S. Grant as the Union general who finally won the Civil War for Abraham Lincoln, it's far more interesting to recall the little moment when he led his troops toward his first conflict of the entire Civil War with very human fear and trepidation: "[M]y heart kept getting higher and higher until it felt to me as though it was in my throat. I would have given anything then to have been back in Illinois."


And then, delicious irony, the enemy he expected to meet just over the brow of the next hill was gone, decamped.


In like fashion, it's one thing to take note that the landscape of the Civil War was often peopled by black slaves (keyword: peopled), but it's important also to cite their own individual experiences, whether it's Booker T. Washington recalling his first moments of freedom, Frederick Douglass reciting his brutal treatment before escaping to freedom, or other, far lesser-known slaves telling their own stories. Or, for that matter, the tale of how the young, newly freed black youth named Booker finally acquired a last name.


But this isn't a book all about soldiers and slaves, which, to judge by many historical accounts, were the principal parties of the Civil War. Instead, our Civil War stories often are about the average civilian, sometimes even special groups. For instance: Congress.


Or, more precisely, read in the pages to follow about a member of Congress who had to ride to his nation's capital in an unheated freight car, then had to wear unlaundered shirts and socks for many days at a time, while his wife and children remained at home under constant threat of invasion. Such was life, not all that unusual a case, actually, for a member of Congress from Georgia-the Confederate Congress meeting in Richmond, that is.


Were conditions that much better in Washington, D.C., the Union capital and home to the United States Congress? Undoubtedly, yes. But it's easy for us to forget that the Federal capital was an incomplete, even primitive urban center by modern standards. "Not a sewer blessed the town, nor off of Pennsylvania Avenue was there a paved gutter," wrote Ohio Congressman Albert G. Riddle, albeit with perhaps some exaggeration.


Meanwhile, First Bull Run in the first July of the Civil War was a rout of the Federal forces defending the same Washington, D.C., correct? Quite so, and so easy to recite today as part of any listing of the major battles of the Civil War. But the real sense of the panic among the retreating Union forces comes through from the onlooking Congressman Riddle's own eyewitness account of the retreat.


As he later recalled, "The poor, demented, exhausted wretches, who could not climb into the high, closed baggage wagons, made frantic efforts to get onto and into our carriage."


The same terrified soldiers grabbed at every handhold they could find, he added with little apparent sympathy. "We had to be rough with them and thrust them out and off." Even so, one of the fleeing "wretches"-a Union major at that-managed to pull himself aboard the congressman's carriage, "and we lugged the pitiful coward a mile or so." And then? "Finally I opened the door, and he tumbled-or was tumbled out."


Women, too, make up the annals of history, along with history's best little stories, to be sure. So it is that my wife and collaborator Ingrid has written the twin biographies appearing at the end herein of the Civil War's twin First Ladies, Mrs. Jefferson Davis (Varina: Forgotten First Lady, page 266) and Mrs. Abraham Lincoln (Mary Todd Lincoln: Troubled First Lady, page 279). As indicated a few lines ago, this is not the first edition of Best Little Stories from the Civil War but rather the third-with brand new material added-thanks to a kind reception by the reading public for which we, the authors, are exceedingly grateful.


While hoping our latest set of readers will enjoy our approach to history, I can still wonder, as I did in the introduction to our 1998 edition: Is journalism but a facet of history, or is history but another form of journalism?


C. Brian Kelly

Charlottesville, Virginia, 2010

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Table of Contents

Introduction      ix
Select Guide to Battles & Personalities       xii
Portents      1
Beginnings      13
First Time Out      14
Fresh Start Sought       16
Who the South Was       20
Fate Makes a Choice       22
Racing to War      24
Better Angels Invoked       26
Social Notice Taken       27
Lincoln Wins Rebel Debate      29
Sumter's Silence      30
Stomach Pumping Questioned      32
Robert and Mary       33
Spy with a Future       36
Swinging His Arms      37
A "Bear" Installed       39
Death of a Congressman       42
Most Famous Shooter       44
Perfect Storm of Bullets       46
At Every Shot a Convulsion       48
First Postmortem      51
Sherman's Threat Appealed      53
Head of the Passes      55
Heart in the Throat      58
Good Times...and Bad       60
Staggering Stats      62
Middles      65
Hello, Washington      66
No Panacea for Politicians       68
Brave Deed Recorded      71
Complete Conquest Required      73
Secession from Secession       75
Soldier A-Courting       77
Battery Disbanded      80
"Granny" Lee      83
Stirring Words Found       86
Jackson's Odd Failure      87
Hello, Richmond      91
Loyalty Charge Dismissed       95
Poignant Moments in Battle      98
Unnecessary Tragedies       101
Knights of the Realm       105
Six-Year-Old's Flight      108
Davises Everywhere       109
Capitalism at Andersonville      111
Jaws of Death       113
Bride Left Behind       115
Audible, Not Visible       116
Spank the Boys      120
Injury Added to Insult       122
Family Affair      124
Miss Kate's Brief Run      127
Escape from Success       130
Faces in the Crowd      133
Red Shirt, White Shirt      137
More Than a Few Ghosts      139
"Shot for You"       141
No Whizz, Bang Heard       143
Women of the Times       146
Woman at the Lead      150
Road to Gettysburg      151
Love Story      154
Coincidences at Gettysburg       156
Old White Oak       160
Black Faces in the Crowd       161
Gettysburg Facts, Stats      164
Lee Family Saga, Continued       166
Three Generals Named Winfield      168
Cat Parties Ended       170
The Fighting McCooks       172
Sidling Down to Richmond      173
Friendly Boost Given      175
"Down, You Fool!"      176
Brave Men Spared       178
Christmas      179
What Does a Slave?       181
More Staggering Stats       186
Endings      189
Old Abe the Soldier Bird       190
Bleak Holiday      192
Unlucky John Bell Hood       195
"On, Wisconsin...On!"      198
Longest Siege       201
Each to His Own Pathway       205
Squint to His Eye       206
Ugly Blows Exchanged       207
They Also Served       211
Story with a Kick      214
Two More to Mourn       216
Embarrassing Outing      219
Surviving to Serve Again      221
Hospital Town      224
So Very Personal       226
No Opportunity for Surrender      229
Parallel Spies      233
Acquiring a New Name       235
Close Connections       237
Lee's Final Order       240
Julia Reads a Note       240
Freedom Still Denied      244
Surprisingly Kind Fate       246
Always a Clear Course      248
War's Sting Delayed       250
Pair for Two       252
Final Glimpses      253
An Arlington Postmortem      257
The Lincoln Memorial: A Postscript       260
The Civil War's Two First Ladies       265
Varina: Forgotten First Lady       266
Mary Todd Lincoln: Troubled First Lady       279
The Civil War-A Short Chronology       309
Acknowledgments      311
Select Bibliography      313
Index      319

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