Rebel Private: Front and Rear: Memoirs of a Confederate Soldier

Overview

The recent rediscovery of Rebel Private: Front and Rear, effectively lost for decades, marks an authentic publishing event in the literature of the Civil War. A rare insight into the conflict from the point of view of a Confederate army enlisted man, this compelling memoir has been hailed by historians as a classic and indispensible key to understanding the Southern perspective. Margaret Mitchell even described it as her single most valuable source of research for Gone With the ...

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Overview

The recent rediscovery of Rebel Private: Front and Rear, effectively lost for decades, marks an authentic publishing event in the literature of the Civil War. A rare insight into the conflict from the point of view of a Confederate army enlisted man, this compelling memoir has been hailed by historians as a classic and indispensible key to understanding the Southern perspective. Margaret Mitchell even described it as her single most valuable source of research for Gone With the Wind.

This stunning document is the work of a common foot soldier blessed with extraordinary perception and articulateness. After joining the famed Texas Brigade under Stonewall Jackson. Private William A. Fletcher saw action at Second Manassas, Fredericksburg, Gettysburg, Channcellorsville, and Chickamauga. He was wounded several times and escaped from a moving Union prison train before the South's surrender. In 1907, he published this powerfully evocative account of his exploits, a volume of frank, detailed recollections that spares none of the horror, courage, or absurdity of war. But a fire destroyed all but a few copies before they could be distributed. One copy, however, did make its way to the Library of Congress, where it was eventually discovered. Today, this colorful work has become the voice of the Civil War front-line grunt, speaking to the modern reader with the intensity of personal experience and a vividness of detail that gives it a riveting you-are-there quality.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
William Fletcher joined the Confederate Army in 1861. He served with the Army of Northern Virginia's elite Texas Brigade until the Battle of Chickamauga. Unable to march because of wounds, he transferred to the cavalry and finished the war with the Texas Rangers, then wrote his memoirs 40 years later. Most of the original copies were destroyed in a fire. The current edition presents unvarnished images of hard marches, short rations and battles in which being wounded could prove worse than being killed. Fletcher describes the horrors of being a Civil War casualty as vividly as any firsthand account from either side. The author emerges from these pages as fighting less for a cause than for his own pride in being a good soldier. His narrative does more than many learned monographs to explain the Confederacy's long endurance against overwhelming odds. (July)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780452011571
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 3/28/1997
  • Edition description: REPRINT
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 684,093
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.18 (h) x 0.66 (d)

Meet the Author

Richard Wheeler, an ex-marine, is the author of sixteen other books of military history, eleven of which deal with different Civil War campaigns and battles, including Voices of the Civil War, winner of the New York City Civil War Round Table's Fletcher Pratt Award. Wheeler is also the author of Voices of 1776: The Story of the American Revolution in the Words of Those Who Were There (Meridian). He lives in Pine Grove, Pennsylvania.

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Table of Contents

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

INTRODUCTION by Richard Wheeler

EXPERIENCES AND OBSERVATIONS FROM THE EARLY FIFTIES AND THROUGH THE CIVIL WAR

GENERAL JACKSON'S FLANKING GENERAL McCLELLAN AND SEVEN DAYS' BATTLE BEFORE RICHMOND, VIRGINIA

BATTLE OF SECOND MANASSAS

BATTLE OF FREDERICKSBURG, VIRGINIA

BATTLE OF GETTYSBURG, PENNSYLVANIA

BATTLE OF CHICKAMAUGA

CAPTURE AND ESCAPE

SURRENDER AND RETURN HOME

AFTERWORD by Vallie Fletcher Taylor

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 9, 2001

    Thought You Knew Why the Civil War was Fought?

    Reading this account of a common enlisted man's experience in the Confederate Army should show the reader some of the real reasons the Civil War was fought. Bill Fletcher was young, impressionable, and did not own slaves. His father warned him that the people stirring up the war effort were up to no good, but it took a few years and many hardships for Bill Fletcher to appreciate his father's wisdom. Very notable was Fletcher's disdain of rank within the army. He is said to have refused most of the promotions offered to him, because he saw the responsibility they imposed as roadblocks his own personal liberty. Also notable is that the mechanics of the writing within the book improve as the story progresses. This indicates that the man who wrote it had little experience with much writing until he decided to tell this particular story. This is not a tale of a polished writer, nor of an officer who considers himself a military genius. It is an honest account of a man who served his country, as many millions have before and since, although few have written such an honest account.

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