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Honved
03-02-2012, 10:41 AM
Gentlemen,

I am about to re-enter the living history field again after many years of being "retired". My teenage son has expressed an interest and I figured I had better start him off correctly. If it weren't for a few forward thinking living-history oriented fellows in the mid-1980's (Chuck Brown, Alan Winfrey, Darryl Black from Picketts Mill and then after joining Cleburne's and subsequently forming the 20th Tenn., Bob Parker, Cheely Carter, Myers Brown, John Culp) I would have probably unhappily ended up with a mainstream unit.

With this being said, I have plenty of material to re-read on the Confederate side but would like to broaden our knowledge on the Federal side as we will be doing both impressions. I am looking for recommendations on books that contain letters and diaries from federal soldiers, preferably a top five list of Western books and a top five list of Eastern books. Also, any links to online collections of the same material would work in the lists. I am not interested in memoirs at this time, just letters and diaries.

Thanks for your help and advice in advance - and of course I hope I haven't broken any forum rules, I did search for book lists and did not find any that fit my needs.

Best regards,

Todd Guthrie

BobSullivanPress
03-02-2012, 12:50 PM
Try Gone for a Soldier, by Alfred Bellard. Bellard was in the 5th New Jersey. His letters and diary entries (and sketches) were put together in this book. I've always liked it.

Shockoe Hill Cats
03-02-2012, 02:00 PM
As If It Were Glory: Robert Beecham's Civil War from the Iron Brigade to the Black Regiments. Hands down one of the most poignant and honest accounts I have read.

NY Pvt
03-02-2012, 04:20 PM
My favorite is:

Hard Marching Every Day: The Civil War Letters of Private Wilbur Fisk, 1861-1865

Fisk was a “high private” of the 2nd Vermont Infantry, he some how managed to survive the war in relatively one piece. He writes to the public, as the book is complied of very descriptive and well written letters to his local paper trying to explain the common sights and sounds of an enlisted man in the Vermont Brigade.

Lt. Higley
03-02-2012, 08:36 PM
Here's a slightly different option from what's been published out there . . .

I have four diaries and many dozens of letters from/to my ggg uncles (22nd NYSV; 123rd NYSV; 16th NYHA and 109th USCT). There is some absolutely terrific stuff (and a lot of it), and I use it regularly for my own impression(s). If you'd be willing not to disseminate the material too broadly, I'd be happy to share some "good" (and fairly unique) stuff.

Ken

CompanyWag
03-02-2012, 10:57 PM
I've always been fond of The Rough Side of War: The Civil War Journal of Chesley A. Mosman, 1st Lieutenant, Company D, 59th Illinois Volunteer Infantry Regiment.
A nice look from a western federal perspective.

BobRoeder
03-03-2012, 12:42 AM
OOPs, a couple of memoirs below, but well worth reading anyway.

FWIW here is a list of some favorites, and a couple of new ones I just finished reading:

If you don't have one already get him a copy of "Hardtack and Coffee" - John Billing's

The first soldier's memoir I ever read when I started back in the mid-70's and still a favorite (can probably be found pretty cheap at used book stores) - "A Yankee Private's Civil War" - Pvt. Robert Hale Strong, Co. B 105th Illinois - went with Sherman to the Sea. Memoirs were written for his mother after the war based on the letters he sent her.

A humorous "memoir" similar to Corporal Si Clegg and his Pard called How Private Geo. W. Peck Put Down the Rebellion or the Funny Experiences of a Raw Recruit by George W. Peck - served in a Wisconsin cavalry regiment and a pretty interesting guy in general.

Private Elisha Stockwell, Jr. Sees the Civil War ed. Byron R. Abernathy

The Story of a Thousand: "Being a brief history of the service of the 105th Ohio Volunteer Infantry Aug. 1862 - June 1865" by Albion Tourgee (another fascinating character)

Lastly, one I just finished which I learned about from one of the members posting here - One Battle Too Many The writings of Simon Bolivar Hulbert, Pvt. Co. E 100th New York Vols. - saw action at Battery Wagner and the Peninsula Campaign - was captured twice, first time sent to Salisbury, NC, then Belle Isle, paroled. Later captured at Drury's Bluff and sent to Andersonville. Well worth the read and a good example of a decent fellow who probably should not have joined the service. The book is a compliation of his letters to his family, and his diaries.

Cheers,

BobRoeder
03-03-2012, 01:04 AM
Since I posted a few memoirs, here are some diaries/letters compilations which are also very good.

The Civil War Notebook of Daniel Chisholm: A chronicle of daily life in the Union Army 1864-65 ed. Menge & Shimrak - the letters of Daniel Chisholm and his brother Alex, plus the diary of Sgt. Samuel A. Clear - all three served w/ Co. K, 116th Penn. The letters and diary were all transcribed by Daniel after the war into a notebook.

Dear Friend Amelia: The Civil War Letters of Private John Tidd by Mary Jordan and Joyce Hatch. Tidd served w/ Co. B 109th New York Vols. - In one interesting letter John speaks quite frankley how much he dislikes Lincoln, how much he supports McClellan for President, and basically how much he is against continuing the war.

Skutatos
03-03-2012, 11:51 PM
My favorite is:

Hard Marching Every Day: The Civil War Letters of Private Wilbur Fisk, 1861-1865

Fisk was a “high private” of the 2nd Vermont Infantry, he some how managed to survive the war in relatively one piece. He writes to the public, as the book is complied of very descriptive and well written letters to his local paper trying to explain the common sights and sounds of an enlisted man in the Vermont Brigade.

I second this. "Hard Marching" is an excellent book. You can really see how his views evolved as the war went on, especially regarding African-Americans.

Honved
03-04-2012, 10:06 PM
Thanks for all of your recommendations, I've already found many of them used online and my credit card account is going to suffer! These volumes should consume my reading needs for the next few months. If anyone else wants to contribute to this reading list please keep adding recommendations to this thread.

Best regards,

Todd Guthrie
Knoxville, TN

dixieflyer
05-05-2012, 01:10 PM
I've always been fond of The Rough Side of War: The Civil War Journal of Chesley A. Mosman, 1st Lieutenant, Company D, 59th Illinois Volunteer Infantry Regiment.
A nice look from a western federal perspective.

Hands down the best Western Federal diary ever Todd. I could go on, but will refrain.

Good to see you back.

Warren

Tyler Underwood
05-05-2012, 01:24 PM
War as Viewed from the Ranks by Willian Keesy

Stevenjohnson9851
09-15-2012, 10:40 PM
With Sherman to the Sea by Theodore F Upson 100th IN Inf.

Philip cav
09-16-2012, 01:02 PM
Desolating this Fair Country. The diary and letters of lieutenant Henry C. Lyon 34th New York infantry. Served from July 1861- September 1862 when he died wounds from Sharpsburg.