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Memoirs of a Confederate Scout and Sharpshooter
Three main stories emerge from Benson's account: his reconnaissance exploits, his experiences in battle, and his escape from prison. Though not yet eighteen years old when he left his home in Augusta, Georgia, to join the army, Benson was soon singled out for the abilities that would serve him well as a scout. Not only was he a crack shot, a natural leader, and a fierce Southern partisan, but he had a kind of restless energy and curiosity, loved to take risks, and was an instant and infallible judge of human nature. His recollections of scouting take readers within arm's reach of Union trenches and encampments. Benson recalls that while eavesdropping he never failed to be shocked by the Yankees' foul language; he had never heard that kind of talk in a Confederate camp!
Benson's descriptions of the many battles in which he fought--including Cold Harbor, The Seven Days, Manassas, Sharpsburg, Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania, and Petersburg--convey the desperation of a full frontal charge and the blind panic of a disorganized retreat. Yet in these accounts, Benson's own demeanor under fire is manifest in the coolly measured tone he employs.
A natural writer, Benson captures the dark absurdities of war in such descriptions as those of hardened veterans delighting in the new shoes and other equipment they found on corpse-littered battlefields. His clothing often torn by bullets, Benson was also badly bruised a number of times by spent rounds. At one point, in May 1863, he was wounded seriously enough in the leg to be hospitalized, but he returned to the field before full recuperation.
Benson was captured behind enemy lines in May 1864 while on a scouting mission for General Lee. Confined to Point Lookout Prison in Maryland, he escaped after only two days and swam the Potomac to get back into Virginia. Recaptured near Washington, D.C., he was briefly held in Old Capitol Prison, then sent to Elmira Prison in New York. There he joined a group of ten men who made the only successful tunnel escape in Elmira's history. After nearly six months in captivity or on the run, he rejoined his unit in Virginia. Even at Appomattox, Benson refused to surrender but stole off with his brother to North Carolina, where they planned to join General Johnston. Finding the roads choked with Union forces and surrendered Confederates, the brothers ultimately bore their unsurrendered rifles home to Augusta.
Berry Benson first wrote his memoirs for his family and friends. Completed in 1878, they drew on his--and partially on his brother's--wartime diaries, as well as on letters that both brothers had written to family members during the war. The memoirs were first published in book form in 1962 but have long been unavailable. This edition, with a new foreword by the noted Civil War historian Herman Hattaway, will introduce this compelling story to a new generation of readers.
The Military Career of Charles Young
An unheralded military hero, Charles Young (1864–1922) was the third black graduate of West Point, the first African American national park superintendent, the first black U.S. military attaché, the first African American officer to command a Regular Army regiment, and the highest-ranking black officer in the Regular Army until his death. Black Officer in a Buffalo Soldier Regiment tells the story of the man who—willingly or not—served as a standard-bearer for his race in the officer corps for nearly thirty years, and who, if not for racial prejudice, would have become the first African American general. Brian G. Shellum describes how, during his remarkable army career, Young was shuffled among the few assignments deemed suitable for a black officer in a white man’s army—the Buffalo Soldier regiments, an African American college, and diplomatic posts in black republics such as Liberia. Nonetheless, he used his experience to establish himself as an exceptional cavalry officer. He was a colonel on the eve of the United States’ entry into World War I, when serious medical problems and racial intolerance denied him command and ended his career. Shellum’s book seeks to restore a hero to the ranks of military history; at the same time, it informs our understanding of the role of race in the history of the American military.
The Civil War Letters of Colonel Robert Gould Shaw
In this book Shaw speaks for himself with equal eloquence through nearly two hundred letters he wrote to his family and friends during the Civil War. The portrait that emerges is of a man more divided and complex--though no less heroic--than the Shaw depicted in the celebrated film Glory. The pampered son of wealthy Boston abolitionists, Shaw was no abolitionist himself, but he was among the first patriots to respond to Lincoln's call for troops after the attack on Fort Sumter. After Cedar Mountain and Antietam, Shaw knew the carnage of war firsthand. Describing nightfall on the Antietam battlefield, he wrote, "the crickets chirped, and the frogs croaked, just as if nothing unusual had happened all day long, and presently the stars came out bright, and we lay down among the dead, and slept soundly until daylight. There were twenty dead bodies within a rod of me."
When Federal war aims shifted from an emphasis on restoring the Union to the higher goal of emancipation for four million slaves, Shaw's mother pressured her son into accepting the command of the North's vanguard black regiment, the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts. A paternalist who never fully reconciled his own prejudices about black inferiority, Shaw assumed the command with great reluctance. Yet, as he trained his recruits in Readville, Massachusetts, during the early months of 1963, he came to respect their pluck and dedication. "There is not the least doubt," he wrote his mother, "that we shall leave the state, with as good a regiment, as any that has marched."
Despite such expressions of confidence, Shaw in fact continued to worry about how well his troops would perform under fire. The ultimate test came in South Carolina in July 1863, when the Fifty-fourth led a brave but ill-fated charge on Fort Wagner, at the approach to Charleston Harbor. As Shaw waved his sword and urged his men forward, an enemy bullet felled him on the fort's parapet. A few hours later the Confederates dumped his body into a mass grave with the bodies of twenty of his men. Although the assault was a failure from a military standpoint, it proved the proposition to which Shaw had reluctantly dedicated himself when he took command of the Fifty-fourth: that black soldiers could indeed be fighting men. By year's end, sixty new black regiments were being organized.
A previous selection of Shaw's correspondence was privately published by his family in 1864. For this volume, Russell Duncan has restored many passages omitted from the earlier edition and has provided detailed explanatory notes to the letters. In addition he has written a lengthy biographical essay that places the young colonel and his regiment in historical context.
A Memoir of World War II
" Winner of the Best Aeronautical Book Award from the Reserve Officers Association of the United States "The sky was full of dying airplanes" as American Liberator bombers struggled to return to North Africa after their daring low-level raid on the oil refineries of Ploesti. They lost 446 airmen and 53 planes, but Philip Ardery's plane came home. This pilot was to take part in many more raids on Hitler's Europe, including air cover for the D-Day invasion of Normandy. This vivid firsthand account, available now for the first time in paper, records one man's experience of World War II air warfare. Throughout, Ardery testifies to the horror of world war as he describes his fear, his longing for home, and his grief for fallen comrades. Bomber Pilot is a moving contribution to American history.
A classic story of a young man’s journey to adulthood, The Boy of Battle Ford covers Blackman’s years growing up in early post-settlement Illinois, where he gave in to temptations such as drinking, gambling, and the lure of prostitutes before joining the army, finding God and becoming a preacher. Blackman, who notes that he is determined to “write facts” in this book, peppers his story with the sordid details of the sinful times of his life as well as with discussions of faith and of struggling to understand his God and his beliefs.
The Memoir of Johnnie Wickersham
Johnnie Wickersham was fourteen when he ran away from his Missouri home to fight for the Confederacy. Fifty years after the war, he wrote his memoir at the request of family and friends and distributed it privately in 1915. Boy Soldier of the Confederacy: The Memoir of Johnnie Wickersham offers not only a rare look into the Civil War through the eyes of a child but also a coming-of-age story.
Edited by Kathleen Gorman, the volume presents a new introduction and annotations that explain how the war was glorified over time, the harsh realities suppressed in the nation’s collective memory. Gorman describes a man who nostalgically remembers the boy he once was. She maintains that the older Wickersham who put pen to paper decades later likely glorified and embellished the experience, accepting a polished interpretation of his own past.
Wickersham recounts that during his first skirmish he was "wild with the ecstasy of it all" and notes that he was "too young to appreciate the danger." The memoir traces his participation in an October 1861 Confederate charge against Springfield, Missouri; his fight at the battle of Pea Ridge in March 1862; his stay at a plantation he calls Fairyland; and the battle of Corinth.
The volume details Wickersham’s assignment as an orderly for General Sterling Price, his capture at Vicksburg in 1863, his parole, and later his service with General John Bell Hood for the 1864 fighting around Atlanta. Wickersham also describes the Confederate surrender in New Orleans, the reconciliation of the North and the South, and his own return and reunification with his family.
While Gorman’s incisive introduction and annotations allow readers to consider how memories can be affected by the passage of time, Wickersham’s boy-turned-soldier tale offers readers an engaging narrative, detailing the perceptions of a child on the cusp of adulthood during a turbulent period in our nation’s history.
From the Journals of a U.S. Marine Intelligence Officer
As an intelligence officer during the Vietnam War, Fred L. Edwards, Jr., was instructed to visit every major ground unit in the country to search for intelligence sources—long range patrols, boats, electronic surveillance, and agent operations. “Edwards found time to keep a journal, an extremely well-written, sharply observed report of his adventures. Along with contemporary postscripts and a helpful historical chronology, that journal is a significant improvement on most Vietnam memoirs. It is the record of a Marine’s on-the-job education.”—Proceedings
Confederate Commander in the Shenandoah
" John D. Imboden is an important but often overlooked figure in Civil War history. With only limited militia training, the Virginia lawyer and politician rose to the rank of brigadier general in the Confederate Army and commanded the Shenandoah Valley District, which had been created for Stonewall Jackson. Imboden organized and led the Staunton Artillery in the capture of the U.S. arsenal at Harper’s Ferry. He participated in the First Battle of Bull Run/Manassas and organized a cavalry command that fought alongside Stonewall Jackson in his Shenandoah Valley Campaign. The Jones/Imboden Raid into West Virginia cut the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad and ravaged the Kanawha Valley petroleum fields. Imboden covered the Confederate withdrawal from Gettysburg and later led cavalry accompanying Jubal Early in his operations against Philip Sheridan in Sheridan’s Shenandoah Valley Campaign. Imboden completed his war service in command of Confederate prisons in Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi. Spencer C. Tucker fully examines the life of this Confederate cavalry commander, including analysis of Imboden’s own post-war writing, and explores overlooked facets of his life, such as his involvement in the Confederate prison system, his later efforts to restore the economic life of his home state of Virginia by developing its natural resources, and his founding of the city of Damascus, which he hoped to make into a new iron and steel center. Spencer C. Tucker, John Biggs Professor of Military History at the Virginia Military Institute, is the author of Vietnam and the author or editor of several other books on military and naval history. He lives in Lexington, Virginia.
A Memoir of America in Post-World War I Germany
Major General Johnson Hagood (1873–1948) was one of South Carolina's most distinguished army officers of the twentieth century. An artillerist and a scholar of military science, Hagood became a noted expert in logistics and served as the chief of staff of the Services of Supply in World War I Europe. Taken from Hagood's wartime journal, Caissons Go Rolling Along describes his artillery brigade's march into Germany in 1918, the wartime devastation, his impressions of the defeated enemy and occupied territories, and his tour of the recent battlefields in the company of the commanders who fought there. Written in a conversational style, the narrative focuses principally on Hagood's time in command of the Sixty-sixth Field Artillery Brigade following the armistice. The Sixty-sixth FAB was attached to the American Third Army, which later became the American occupation force in the Rhineland. Hagood recorded his impressions of the conditions in which he found his men at the end of the war and the events of a tour of the French, British, and American battlefields. More important, he set down a record of the devastation of the French countryside, the contrasting lack of suffering he found in Germany, the character of the Germans, and some predictions for the future. "I have left the text as it was when we held these people at the point of the bayonet," he wrote in his preface years later. "The opinions we formed at that time are important because they were the basis of our action. . . . The scourge of the Great War took a heavy toll . . . and we Americans might as well keep in mind what we were fighting for." Hagood captures defining aspects of the American character at the close of World War I. He described a boisterous, optimistic people, sure of their new place in the world. Rome provided Hagood with an analogy for the new American empire, which he took for granted in his postwar memoir. Completed during Hagood's lifetime but unpublished until now, Caissons Go Rolling Along is an engrossing portrait of war-torn Europe, a stark reminder of grim realities of the Great War, and a richly detailed look at the daunting task of occupying and rebuilding a defeated nation.
Ulysses S. Grant's Last Campaign
Early in 1885 Americans learned that General Ulysses S. Grant was writing his memoirs in a desperate race against time due to an incurable cancer. Newspaper readers followed the dramatic contest for six months, and the hearts of Americans were touched by the general’s last battle. In this book Thomas M. Pitkin tells the story of the last campaign of the general who was called “the great captain of the Union’s salvation.”