Friday, June 28, 2019

Review of "Voices from the Civil War," by Milton Meltzer

Review of

Voices from the Civil War, by Milton Meltzer ISBN 0690048025

Five out of five stars

 These short snippets written by soldiers and civilians on both sides of the American Civil War show that the people that fought in it kept their hopes and dreams alive while they witnessed horrible carnage with many of their comrades and opponents turned into amorphous masses of discontinuous protoplasm. As is generally the case in civil wars, there really is not that much difference between the common soldiers doing the fighting and dying on both sides.

 There is a great deal of valuable context to the snippets written in italicized script that explains some of the background needed to understand what is being referenced by the authors of the associated short statements. Without this text, many of the snippets would not be understood by people not well grounded in history.

 People that understand what came later in the First World War will know that there were clear lessons regarding the future of warfare to be learned from the American Civil War. Those lessons are present in this text. The main weapons on both sides were muzzle loading muskets and yet one side charging the other’s prepared positions rarely succeeded. Even when it did success was due to overwhelming numbers and led to horrific casualties among the attacking forces.

 This is personal history as well as a macro history of a war like so many others. The side that declared the war for some stated reasons ended up losing those reasons when it was over.

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