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I Do Wish This Cruel War Was Over

First Person Accounts of Civil War Arkansas from the Arkansas Historical Quarterly

Mark K. Christ

Publication Year: 2014

I Do Wish this Cruel War Was Over collects diaries, letters, and memoirs excerpted from their original publication in the Arkansas Historical Quarterly to offer a first-hand, ground-level view of the war’s horrors, its mundane hardships, its pitched battles and languid stretches, even its moments of frivolity. Readers will find varying degrees of commitment and different motivations among soldiers on both sides, along with the perspective of civilians living both in the thick of conflict and at a painful distance from fighting kin. In many cases, these documents address aspects of the war that would become objects of scholarly and popular fascination only years after their initial appearance: the guerrilla conflict that became the “real war” west of the Mississippi; the “hard war” waged against civilians long before William Tecumseh Sherman set foot in Georgia; the work of women in maintaining households in the absence of men; and the complexities of emancipation, which saw African Americans winning freedom and sometimes losing it all over again. Altogether, these first-person accounts provide an immediacy and a visceral understanding of what it meant to survive the Civil War in Arkansas.

Published by: University of Arkansas Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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Series Editors’ Preface

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pp. ix-x

The Civil War in the West has a single goal: to promote historical writing about the war in the western states and territories. It focuses most particularly on the Trans-Mississippi theater, which consisted of Missouri, Arkansas, Texas, most of Louisiana (west of the Mississippi River), Indian Territory (modern day...

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pp. xi-xiv

The Arkansas Historical Quarterly began life in the early, dark days of World War Two and from the beginning devoted many of its pages to an earlier, equally grim conflict—the American Civil War. Since 1942, in addition to fine scholarship on the war in Arkansas, the Quarterly has published dozens of edited and...

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pp. 1-8

Dear Sir I have to acknowledge your favor accompanied by a copy of the Resolutions passed by the late Convention of the people of Arkansas, over which you preside. In your letter accompanying these Resolutions, you request that I lay them before the Legislature of this State, at the earliest convenient moment. I will...

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1: “A Holy and Just Cause”

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pp. 9-18

There is [nothing] of importance to write. We are fixed up for house keeping here now. They are going to organize a Brigade, Capt.2 says when we leave here, that we will [have] Twenty thousand men. We are sixty miles from Booneville Missouri where they had one fight.3 Five thousand men can [be] collected here...

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2: “These Dismal Mountains”

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pp. 19-87

Miss Becca, I have determined to write you a few lines this morning, and I have no excuse to make, or apology to offer for troubling you, other than what some little boy might say—“Just because I want to”—But I am not entirely sure that the permission you once gave me to write you just one letter has been countermanded...


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pp. 88-104

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3: “The Atmosphere Begins to Smell a Little Gunpowderish”

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pp. 105-164

Jany 8th. Raining this morning. Harwell2 and R S Allen3 start out for the scout. Vines4 is sent to Napoleon on picket. At dark a scout comes in and reports a Gunboat at the Cut Off; sounding, and that it had come through the Cut Off,from White river. Captain Richardson’s5 scouting party is at Judge Fletcher’s...

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4: “This Campaign Was Very Destructive”

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pp. 165-230

Went to see Mrs. [Louisa] Bridges yesterday and gave Mr. Longley two lessons in writing. He is very proud of being able to write. I wonder what the folks at home would say to know that I am teaching a grown man to write or even to see some of the levees that we hold sometimes. A room full of solemn looking...

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5: “Lonely, Hopeless Days”

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pp. 231-248

January 1, 1865. Lewisberg, Arkansas. Worked on Muster & Pay Rolls, & made monthly reports of Desertions & Monthly returns of the Company & Anual Return of Casualties for the year, 64. January 2. Worked on Muster & pay Rolls news came in of 900 Rebs being at Dardinell. Scout sent out to see.1Wrote a letter to Father. . . . January 4, 1865. Finished the Muster & pay Rolls and compared them. Wrote...


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pp. 249-262

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9781610755405
Print-ISBN-13: 9781557286475

Page Count: 600
Publication Year: 2014