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Soldiering with Sherman: The Civil War Letters of George F. Cram
     

Soldiering with Sherman: The Civil War Letters of George F. Cram

by Jennifer Cain Bohrnstedt (Editor), George Franklin Cram, Orville Vernon Burton (Introduction)
 

Rare among Civil War correspondence, the collection of Union Sergeant George F. Cram's letters reveals an educated young man's experiences as part of Sherman's army. Advancing through the Confederacy with the 105th Illinois Infantry Regiment, Cram engaged in a number of key conflicts, such as Resaca, Peachtree Creek, Kennesaw, and Sherman's "march to the

Overview

Rare among Civil War correspondence, the collection of Union Sergeant George F. Cram's letters reveals an educated young man's experiences as part of Sherman's army. Advancing through the Confederacy with the 105th Illinois Infantry Regiment, Cram engaged in a number of key conflicts, such as Resaca, Peachtree Creek, Kennesaw, and Sherman's "march to the sea."

A highly literate college student who carried a copy of Shakespeare in his knapsack, Cram wrote candid letters that convey insights into the social dimensions of America's Civil War. With a piercing objectivity, optimism, and a dry sense of humor, Cram conscientiously reported the details of camp life. His vivid depictions of the campaigns throughout Alabama, Georgia, and the Carolinas contribute new insights into the battle scenes and key Union leaders.

Cram and several of his compatriots adhered to a principled code of personal conduct (no smoking, swearing, drinking, or gambling), striving to maintain integrity and honor in the face of war's hardships and temptations. Influenced by the abolitionist values of his community and college, Cram's observations on the effects of slavery and on the poverty of many of the Southerners are especially illuminating.

Civil War scholars and general readers alike will learn much from Cram's discoveries and observations—from his sympathy for poor whites to his grudging respect for the Confederates—that reveal the character of a young man maturing at war.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"An important read for anyone interested in the Civil War."—Journal of Illinois History

"A rewarding and informative book.... Bohrnstedt has done a good job of introducing Cram to us as a complete, well-rounded human being, so we can more fully understand and appreciate his letters and his insight into his experience of war."—Civil War News

"A must-read."—Chicago Magazine

Soldiering With Sherman: The Civil War Letters Of George F. Cram is a compilation of the letters of Union Sergeant George F. Cram's letters that reveal an educated young man's experiences as part of Sherman's army during the American Civil War. Advancing through the Confederacy with the 105th Illinois Infantry Regiment, Cram engaged in a number of key conflicts, including Sherman's famous "march to the sea". Cram wrote candid, literate letters conveying insights into the social dimensions of the Civil War. His writings are characterized by piercing objectivity, optimism, and a dry sense of humor. His vivid depictions of the campaigns in Alabama, Georgia, and the Carolinas are a superb and substantial contribution to Civil War studies. Soldiering With Sherman is an informative, engaging, and core title for any personal, academic, or community library Civil War studies collection.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780875802619
Publisher:
Northern Illinois University Press
Publication date:
08/28/2000
Edition description:
1
Pages:
230
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.90(d)

Read an Excerpt

In our breastworks, May 27th, 1864
Dear Mother,

I hardly know how to write there is so much of intense interest to communicate, but will begin back to May 14th and describe at random what has occurred since. At that date (Saturday) our brigade formed the 1st line of battle on the right center. The rebels in our front held a most formidable position and it was not deemed advisable by Hooker to charge them, though Genl. Ward was crazy all day to do so; so nothing but skirmishing took place during the day by us, though in our left the 14th Corps were heavily engaged toward night.

We slept on our arms during the night and the next morning (Sunday) started rapidly to the left where the rebels were ascertained to be massing their might. Our division was all drawn up in line on the extreme left ready for work at 12 midnight and in a few moments we learned from our commander the duty before us which was to charge the enemy's works.

We had formed just beneath a hill whose protecting sides covered us from the sight of the enemy as our regts. were being massed, an almost deathlike silence pervaded the ranks. Every man knew that in a few moments death would be at work among us and all seemed to fully realize the fact, but they all stood up like men and seemed to vie with each other in real courage.

At 12 we fixed bayonets and dashed over the hill. A perfect shower of shot, shell and grape met us thinning our ranks sadly, (Tirtlot fell on the first shot) but without the least check we flew down the hill, crossed the road at the front, climbed over some breastworks the rebels had left and began the run of the hill where they were posted.

The 105th was the last regt., but the two in front of us (79 Ohio and 129 Ill.) immediately laid down at the foot of this hill and our regt. ran right over them. They were behind and in among us which so mixed us up that amidst the tangled underbrush it was impossible to distinguish our lines and keep together, so it was every man for himself.

QUOTES:

"What a scene now bursts forth; indescribably grand! Unspeakably appalling! The screaming shells now begin to burst amont us. . . the soul of the man is lost in the glory of the soldier. . ." George F. Cram

"It seems as though this country was covered with the graves of our brave boys. I can never pass lighty by one of them but always think that there is some mother mourning a dead soldier boy." George F. Cram

"I often think should I live to return, I shall look back with great pride upon my soldier's life. And so I frequently say to myself now, 'It is good for us to be here.' We are learning much that could not be learned elsewhere." George F. Cram

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