David Rubel - Author, Historian, Speaker
Civil War Chronicle

Category: Adult
Publisher: Crown
Pages: 544
Publication Date: October 2000


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The Civil War Chronicle
The Only Day-by-Day Portrait of America’s Tragic Conflict As Told by Soldiers, Journalists, Politicians, Farmers, Nurses, Slaves, and Other Eyewitnesses
Edited by J. Matthew Gallman, David Rubel, and Russell Shorto, with an introduction by Eric Foner


Publisher’s Description
In this moving day-by-day chronicle, we hear the real voices of the soldiers, nurses, farmers, laborers, slaves, and freed people who lived through America’s most tragic conflict. This much-needed collection of the letters, diaries, speeches, telegrams, newspaper accounts, and official battlefield reports penned by those people presents an astonishing array of perspectives and conflicting accounts of this very personal war. Hundreds of period black-and-white images enhance the first-person accounts and help recapture the texture of life at all levels and on both sides of the Civil War.





Library Journal review
The American Civil War has been so well documented by historians that it seems difficult to produce an original work on the subject. Here, however, we see a new approach to this familiar conflict. Gallman, director of the Civil War Institute at Gettysburg College, has compiled extensive primary sources into a one-volume account of the war, showing the conflict through the eyes of witnesses in a day-by-day history that begins with reactions to Abraham Lincoln’s 1860 election and ends with accounts of the Confederate defeat in May 1865. Various documents are reproduced, including letters from soldiers, private diaries, newspaper articles, government dispatches, and telegrams. Concentrating on campaigns and battles, this work is especially good in its inclusion of minor as well as major engagements. Despite the military emphasis, the home front is well represented. However, at least two significant events, the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and the end of the war, deserve more attention. Additional eyewitness accounts would have given readers a better sense of the country’s emotions in 1865. Still, in this invaluable source, readers have a chance to see single events from different points of view, sampling accounts from presidents and generals, common soldiers and sailors, journalists, women, and slaves. This unique work serves as both a fine history and a quick reference.


Voice of Youth Advocates
This ambitious offering collects hundreds of primary source materials to present a chronological picture of the Civil War. The result is a widely encompassing collection that captures the complex issues and diverse viewpoints of the period. At times, the shift in perspective is quite powerful. The wife of a southern landowner offering her candid views opposing slavery in a diary is followed by an unapologetic speech by the Confederate vice president defending the practice. First Bull Run is seen through separate reports from a Union soldier, a Confederate general, and a civilian bystander. At times the shift in language style is abrupt, moving from flowery political speeches to rigid battle reports to plainspoken diaries. Battle accounts are numerous, but other entries offer vast insight into the effects of the war on business, politics, and civilian life.