Friday, November 11, 2016

Mount TBR #57

Happy Veteran’s Day

I read this book for the Mount TBR Reading Challenge hosted over at My Reader’s Block from January 1 – December 31, 2016. The challenge is to read books that you already own.

A Volunteer's Adventures: A Union Captain's Record of the Civil War - John William De Forest

John William De Forest earned fame as a novelist after the civil war and nowadays he is considered the first American realist. I have not read his most famous work Miss Ravenel's Conversion, but may because this memoir of his war experience was quite interesting and smoothly written. It consists of letters to his wife and magazine articles that we wrote both during and after the war.

Clearly De Forest was a highly educated man. He even knew French so he was able to communicate with Cajuns while he was posted to dangerous campaigning and tedious garrison duty in Louisiana. The siege of Port Hudson, for instance, is narrated very clearly.

After that, he fought under Sheridan in the valleys of Virginia and all his experience was grist to his literary mill. Some of the chapters are letters, some magazine pieces, and others recasts of official corps history that he was ordered to write as is federal plundering for food. I was surprised that between paychecks, union officers often nearly starved on meagre rations.

The editor provided instructive introductions to the chapters. I would recommend this account to serious students of the civil war.

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