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 ...

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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
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 262,484
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

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

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.

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