Turned Inside Out: Recollections of a Private Soldier in the Army of the Potomac

Overview


This memoir is no misty-eyed bit of nostalgia. Frank Wilkeson writes, he tells us, because "the history of the fighting to suppress the slave holders’ rebellion, thus far written, has been the work of commanding generals. The private soldiers who won the battles, and lost them through the ignorance and incapacity of commanders, have scarcely begun to write the history from their point of view."
 
Wilkeson’s is a firsthand account of the ...
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Overview


This memoir is no misty-eyed bit of nostalgia. Frank Wilkeson writes, he tells us, because "the history of the fighting to suppress the slave holders’ rebellion, thus far written, has been the work of commanding generals. The private soldiers who won the battles, and lost them through the ignorance and incapacity of commanders, have scarcely begun to write the history from their point of view."
 
Wilkeson’s is a firsthand account of the fumbles and near-cowardice of the commanders, of their squandering of opportunity, materiel, and human life; yet it also portrays foolishness, cupidity, recklessness, and sloth in the ranks. Wilkeson believes stoutly in the virtues of private soldiers who enlisted early in the war; he has a jaundiced eye for the bounty-hunter, conscript, immigrant, and Johnny-come-lately soldiers of the 1864 army. Nor does he cover the battlefield with the haze of glory; he writes frankly and directly of the scenes of death and mutilation, of battlegrounds covered with dead and dying men and animals in the hot summer sun.
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Editorial Reviews

James M. McPherson

"Wilkeson’s memoirs are unlike most others by Civil War veterans, who tended to romanticize and sometimes to glorify their experiences, thus distorting the experiences they went through. . . . His emphasis on the seamy, unheroic, horrific side of war is a healthy corrective to romanticism."—James M. McPherson
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780803297999
  • Publisher: UNP - Nebraska Paperback
  • Publication date: 11/1/1997
  • Pages: 246
  • Lexile: 1100L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 0.56 (w) x 5.50 (h) x 8.50 (d)

Meet the Author


James M. McPherson is a historian on the faculty of Princeton University. His many books include Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era, which won a Pulitzer Prize in 1989.
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 15, 2000

    From The Civil War Front

    I would not have thought of reading a book with the nondescript and unrevealing title 'Turned Inside Out' if a friend had not informed me that it was one of the true masterpieces of the American Civil War. My friend did not exaggerate: it is. Originally called 'Recollections of a Private Soldier in the Army of the Potomac.' it is by Frank Wilkeson, son of famed war correspondent and brother of the young hero Lieutenant Bayard Wilkeson. The 19-year-old Lt. Wilkeson, an artillery officer, was mortally wounded on the first day of the Battle of Gettysburg. Frank Wilkeson never says what effect his brother's death had on his determination to go to war too; but we first meet him at the age of 16, when he has run away from home to enlist. His initial experiences in trying to get to the front--he had accidentally fallen in with a unit of bounty-jumpers--are such as to make one wonder how the United States ever survived the Civil War. His harrowing, graphic descriptions of camp life and battle will linger with the reader for a long time. This is much more than personal memoir--it is literature.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 5, 2000

    Wilkeson's War

    I was absolutely captivated by this memoir. What particularly caught my attention was the quality of Frank Wilkeson's writing. It was clear, incisive, vivid, and ironic. It is a man examining- almost a quarter of a century later -his own and his comrades' participation in the Civil War. This book contains scenes readers are not likely to forget. I was not surprised to learn that no less a critic than William Dean Howells likened aspects of the book to some of Tolstoy's writing. I recommend it highly.

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