James married his second wife Clara McCoy in 1857 after his first wife Sarah Hobbs died, during a time of great economic turmoil for the United States. They were both about 32 years old on their wedding day in January. In 1859 they have a son, little George Monroe.
Civil War started in South Carolina in April of 1861 and James enlisted in the 45th GA Regiment eleven months later. We are enriched to have 12 letters written by James to Clara during his time in the Regiment.
James H. DICKERSON served the C.S.A. (Confederate States of America) as a private for 6 months from March 4th to August 12 in 1862. Twelve letters written by him to his second wife Clary were donated to the United States Military Academy Library at West Point in 1983 by Ethel Dickerson McCOY.
We have not viewed any handwritten images, only transcriptions of the letters as written, with no grammatical corrections. It may take a couple of readings to understand what is being communicated because of the spelling. Just think phonetic or text speak and you should be able to figure it out.
My research notes are indicated by ,  etc. and are not part of the original letter. If you have trouble understanding the content or words, please contact me and we’ll try to figure it out together.
Letter Number 1
No date but apparently mailed sometime in April 1862
Golesburror North Caroliner  45 G. Ridgment 
Dear Wife I drop you a few lines to let you know how I am getting along I am not well at this time though I am up and about. We are about one milde from Goalds Burrow We stoped here last night to pitch our tents and get out of the wether We will settle when the wether brakes or if we have some very bad wether here the trees are not budding yet it is coald enuff to snow Nearly as soon as (I) get well of one sore throat I have another There is a great many soldiers at this place I dont know how many I am very well pleased with this country if the wether was good which I think will be soon. I want you to wright to me soon and let me know you are all getting along and whether or not you got the money that I sent to you or not. I gave it to Newman to sent to you. I have nothing of interest to wright. There is no chance of a fight soon I think when you wrigh to me you had better get the Post Master to back your letter because he might know better than I do now if not Recit Goalds Burro North Carolina 45 Regiment Company D in care of Capt.White  Yours and I am J.H. Dickerson
To Mrs. Clary Dickerson Procktor’s Store , GA
Envelope stamped Forsyth Ga
 Town of Goldsborough in the middle eastern part of North Carolina. It sprang up as a railroad town near Waynesboro and had a population of about 1500 in the year 1861. Because it was an important railroad junction, it played a significant role in the Civil War for stationing Confederate Troops and transporting supplies. The wounded were cared for in a hospital there. In Dec of 1862 the Battle of Goldborough was a fight for the railroad bridge with the Union winning. It’s name was changed to Goldsboro in 1869.
 45th GA Regiment. An infantry group of the Confederate Army organized by Col. Hardeman Jr. during the winter of 1861-1862. It was ordered to Virginia under the command of Generals Anderson and Thomas. According to the CWSS “It served in the arduous campaigns of the Army of N VA from the Seven Day’s Battles to Cold Harbor” then on to Petersburg and Appomatox.
 Captain Joseph H. White as of 4th of March 1862. He was wounded at 2d Manassas VA on Aug 30th 1862 and died from his wounds on the 6th of Sep 1862.
 Proctors Store in the community of Blount in Monroe County GA. It was appointed as an official post office on 13th of July 1860. The Proctor family were among the earliest settlers, building the second house structure in the county. From an Arizona Highways 1973 issue we learn that “. . . in 1837 in America, pre-paid postage was not yet born. Letters were sent on ‘pay when delivered’ basis at such exorbitant rates that people had to sell treasured possessions or borrow money to pay the postage for letters from their loved ones. Cheap and uniform pre-paid postage rates were not a public reality until 1883.” There were three Proctors in the 45th Regiment so we can hope that the Dickersons got a deal on the postage rate.
Letter Number 2
Virginia Carolina County  May the 6 1862
Dier wife I seat m self with plesier to informe you that I am well at presant and hoping these few lines may find you injoing the same plesier I reseved your leter dates the 20 witch gave mee great satisfaction you rote to mee that you had reseved your money that I sent you rite to mee how mutch money you get and you have bougth corne from Cutter in the plase of Webb  that shose that you have some respete for his felings and you had bought a cow wheter she has got a calf or not I dont no I have not got no uniforme yet nor I dont no when I want you to make me som close and have them redy it is cold her yet tha trees is not buded out her yet I am 60 miles from richmon when I pased threw richmond I heard from Tom and Dock tha are both well at Yorketown I am station on the rapersanoc river  one thousand miles from you Crouice arrived the 2 from what he sade you didant ceer wether you rote or not tha will be a big batte fought her in a week Direct leters to ginna Station Virgina Caroliner County I want you to rite to Captain White if I shoud di or git kild if you want me brough home or not rite it on the loer part of your leter to itself and sine youre name rite as soone get this nothing more at presant onely I remain youre beloved husband until death from J. H. Dickerson to Mrs. Clary Dickerson.
 Caroline County, Virginia was the birthplace of thoroughbred horse racing in North America. Arabian horses were imported from England for stock. The well known race horse ‘Secretariat’ was born here as well as William Clark (of Lewis and Clark) and his slave York. Of interest are the prehistoric whale and shark skeletons that have been found in this county that once was ocean.
 Cutter and Webb families both lived in Monroe County, GA.
 Rappahannock River in Virginia enters the Chesapeake Bay 20 miles South of the Potomac. The river provided a barrier and defensive line where the Confederates could stage their troops with little fear of attack from the Union.
In the first two letters we find James reporting on his health and the status of the trees in Virginia. He is concerned about affairs at home and probably in need of clothing for himself. It seems as though he is anxious to receive a letter from his wife. He is almost despondent sounding, reminding his wife to make arrangements should he die.
By the third letter he has heard from his wife. Her letter took about 13 days to get to him. Again, he reports on his health and farming conditions but has probably seen something of battle and is looking for a little comfort or relief from his anxious circumstances. Letters 3 and 4 are written in two consecutive days. Again, the numbers in brackets are notes and are not in the original letters.
Letter Number 3
Virginia Carliner County May the 11, 1862
Dier wife I reseved youre leter dated April the 29 witch gave me great plesier to read it I am well at present We expect to have a big fight here every minit Tha is no corne planted her yet I had a bad spell in Golesborro but I have got well I want you to rite every weeke to mee and have your leter back right tha last I reseved came to the ridment I want it too come to Company D 45 Ga. Ridgment  You wrote to me that you had some whiskey I want it if you please I want you to rite to mee every week and I will do the same I will sent this by hand to forsyth  I will come to a close by saing I am youre afetionnate husban until deth J.H. Dickerson to Mrs. C. Dickerson
 45th Georgia Regiment a volunteer infantry division of the Confederate Army. Organized by Colonel T. Hardeman Jr. during the winter of 1861 – 1862. Also referred to as ‘McCowan Guards’.
 Forsyth is the county seat of Monroe County, GA where the DICKERSONs lived.
Letter Number 4
May the 12 1862
Dier wife I take this opertunity of droping you a few lines to informe you that I ame not well at presant I got that gill  of whiskey you sent mee I can get whiskey her for $1 Doler a Drink  I her canons a firing at this time tha yanks  is taken 30 of the pickets last night  I want you to rite to mee every week and not fale I have seene a heep sins I left you it is too mutch to rite when I com home I will take a plesier in telling you be certin you direct youre leters to the 45 Ga ridgment Company D. I will come to a close by saing I am your beloved husband until Deth J. H. Dickerson Mrs. C. Dickerson
 A ‘gill’ also spelled ‘jill’ is a measurement of liquid volume. In the United States it’s about 1/2 cup or 4 ounces. The measurement is believed to have originated in the 14th century and stems from English King Charles attempting to tax whiskey and wine by volume in 1625. By law, Charles was unable to tax on a ‘Jack’ or ‘Jackpot’ so he taxed on the ‘gill’ which was half the volume. The nursery rhyme “Jack and Jill” is thought to be based on this experience.
 Alcohol use and abuse in military culture has a historical past. Some reasons for its popularity include: a de-stressor during active war time, a peer bonding experience and a time filler. Read more about this topic from a news article.
 ‘Yank’ is a shortened form of ‘Yankee’ which was (and occasionally still is) a term used to identify a person of the Northern States of America.
 A ‘picket’ was a group of about 40 men from the infantry that served as a guard or outpost in advance of and for the rest of their regiment. The duty was rotated amongst the men and was considered the most dangerous work in the infantry. They were the first to see the frontline and could be wounded, killed or captured. In this case 3/4 of the picket was captured.
Letters 5 and 6 were written 7 days apart. On May 27 the Battle of Hanover Courthouse (also known as the Battle of Slash Church) was fought. It is noted that about 200 Confederates died on the field and 730 captured. The Union lost about 375 with 70 captured (James says 60 were captured).
In letter 5, James had already seen death in the Regiment due to sickness and was still experiencing illness himself. He obviously misses the female companionship of his wife and keeps count of how many letters they have (or have not) written to each other. James wants to make changes and it appears there are many uncertainties at home.
In the 6th letter, James describes the hardship of the last few days. He has ‘seene sights’ of battle and death. Make sure to read note #4 that more fully describes the situation of the Regiment in a letter written by a young man also of the regiment. It’s incredible that so much information can be gleaned on the internet.
Letter Number 5
Virginia Caroliner County May 24 1862
Dier wife I take my seet this morning to drop you a few lines that I am well at this time and I hope these few lines will find you all well I reseve youre leter dated the 16 of May whitch gave mee great plesir to her from you wee have a great deal of sickness in the ridgment and deths  when i first came her I had the yerake  so bad that I was dif and when I was at golesborough I had the _______ and the rumatisam in the hip and nee so that I could not walk but I am as well as before at this time wee have tite laws in this rigment no man can go a mile from the rigment without a pas there is a few peple lives in this county and tha ar rich I see some few wimin when I go on dres parrad  and tha ar as ugley as tha Devil I would be glad to be at home to go with you a fishing I have not dremp about you but wons sins I left you I have have rote 6 leters to you and I have got 3 from you I will send you som money for you to pay for your leters and paper I have plenty You wont at home when you rote youre last leter to mee I want you to rite to mee wether you live at home or among your nabors or not I have not draw no money yet tha say the first of June we will git pay I am a going to try for a transfer to Mobleys Company I am asking you to find out the nomber the ridgment and rite to mee soon as you can and if I sucseed I would come by home tel Monroe  that I have got him a litle wach chane that I found in richmond I want you to rite to me about your wheet and hogs and evrything els and when youre acoming to see mee Clary I have not seene but one purty woman and shee was in agusta I have nothing to rite to you at presant so I will close my pensel is pale my love to you shal never fale until Deth J. H. Dickerson to Mrs. Clary Dickerson
 From Civilwar.com we read, “Sickness and disease were the scourge of both armies and more men died of disease than in battle. Sanitation in the camps was very poor. Germs and the existence of bacteria had not yet been discovered, and medical science was quite primitive by today’s standards. Morning sick call was played in camp and ailing soldiers trudged to the surgeon’s tent where the “sawbones” examined the sick. Quinine or other stimulants were administered, including an elixir called “Blue Mass”. Whiskey was universally given for most ailments as was brandy and other stimulants. Extremely ill soldiers were sent to brigade hospitals where most were further affected by disease. Thousands of men in both armies died without ever firing a shot in battle.”
 “yerake [ear ache] so bad that I was dif [deaf]”
 The Confederate Regulations required for one daily dress parade either at midmorning or sunset. Part of the purpose of the dress parade was to be seen by the public. It also served as a roll call and inspection. Music was present at all parades provided by the military band.
 George Monroe, is James and Clary’s son and only child together. He is about 2 years old.
Letter Number 6
Virginia Richmond May the 31 1862
Dier wife I take this operunity of droping you a few lines to informe you that I am not well at this time I have seene sights sins Wash  left We left Ginia  we went down the pertomac  and thar goined another arma and the yankes wer thar and on Sunday wee forme a line of batle and tha ded not give  we had some 8 thousand men tha had 60 thousnad we lost about 30 kild and wounded and the los on the other side we dont no wee got 60 prisners and a good meney horses wee ar in the woods star naked all of the things that we had burnt up Sum has close and some has non I have mi close onley one par of briches I throwed away some of the ones at our camps last night  you wrote to mee about that Wash sed he was not able to do family duty and did not think ye was able to do milatory duty direct vouleteers to richmond and rite soon I will come to close by saing I am your afectunate husban until deth J. H. Dickerson to Mrs. C. Dickerson
 ‘Wash’ may refer to Stephen Washington PROCTOR or William W. PROCTOR. Proctor’s store was the post office in Monroe County GA for James’ and Clary’s letters.
 ‘Ginia’ [Virginia]
 Potomac River. A river 383 miles long extending from the Appalachian Mountains to the Chesapeake Bay. The river divided the Confederacy from the Union.
 Interpreted from the phonetic, the whole sentence reads, ‘We left Virginia, we went down the Potomac and there joined another army and the yankees were there and on Sunday we formed a line of battle and they did not give.’
 From a letter written by Matthew Morton to his parents on the exact same day of James’ letter, we learn more about the battle and retreat the 45th regiment experienced:
‘. . . I find the Regiment in pretty bad condition having lost and destroyed together all their tents Baggage &e in a retreat they had to make last Tuesday also nearly all their cooking utensils. There is hardly a man in our company who has a change of clothes left, and many of them are sick and have been sent to Richmond . . . I have permission from the Colonel to go to Richmond tomorrow – for the purpose of getting my clothing I was not able to get anything brought with me today It is not unlikely the Regiment will be in a Battle tomorrow – as heavy and rapid canonading (sic.) is now going on a short distance from us.
The Regiment is now under marching orders with their rashions (sic.) already cooked. . .
I would state that what little I saw of the Carolinas it is last place in the world – and Virginia little if any better from the way things sell – look at it – 80¢ for Eggs per dozen . . . There was a crowd of soldiers traveling along with me who made it a business to ridicule & abuse those who they took to be conscrips . . . ‘
Matthew Morton died 21 July 1862 of exposure. His brother was with him.
James sounds very low in letter 7. He’s ill and homesick. His living conditions are poor and he’s seen casualties of battle, one of them being the death of a friend. His request is for a momento of hair and the written word from Clary. Letter 8 appears to be written 3 days after letter 7. He is in better health but describes the cold, hunger, and anticipation of battle they are living with. Sickness is amongst the Regiment. He wants to know about home life and remains an ‘affectionate husban.”
Letter Number 7
Richmond Virginina June the 5 1862
Dier wife I take my seet this morning to let you now that I am not well at presant I not got none leters from you in along time I think sometimes that you have stop riting I ly down in a hole of water and get up out a hole of water wee have some hard fiting everyday Mose Suten got kiled and great many was wounded I her that all men that is over thirty five  can go home after the 16 of June and if it is so you may look for mee I have nothing to rite to you of importans I want you to make mee a brade of your hair and send it to mee I want you to rite to mee I have rote ten or twelve leters and reseced foure tha balans gits leters evry week I will come to a close saing I am your beloved husband until Deth J. H. Dickerson to Mrs. C. Dickerson.
 James is age 40.
Letter Number 8
Richmond Virginia the 8 1862
Dier wife I take this opertunity of droping you a few lines to informe you that I am well at presant and hopeing these few lines may fine you all well I want to her from you all any how I am her in the woods with one blanket and napsack and hot [not] half enof to eat we are looking evry minet for a fight we can see plenty of yanks one the other side of the river we are sheling each other every day Dick Bias receve a leter from his wife that stated tha had bin a fight in youre settement I want you to rite to mee if you plese that all git leter but mee I would be glad to her from you now is the time to rite this makes twelve leters I have rote to you we have a great deal of sickness John Holwer left us at ginee and i dont no where he is tha loued he would die  all the sickness is from the mesels  I dont want to stay this part of the world it is cold and too wet it was cold last night I want you to rite to mee wether your raking my wheet or not and how youre comin and how you came on rasing chickines and what your hogs is a doing Jo gilping  is home sick and William B too and I am sorter soo my love is all I will to you the reson I didant pay the potea tha [they] tole [told] me that tha would go beter without you must not think hard of it escuse my hand rite for i had to rite it one my napsack by a fire so I will close I shal not rite until I git a leter from you nothing more at presant onley I remane youre afectionate husban until Deth J. H. Dickerson to Mrs. C. Dickerson
 ‘tha loued he would die’ is probably ‘They [be]’lieved he would die’.
 A confederate soldier had a 1 in 8 chance of dying in battle and a 1 in 5 chance of dying of disease according to Eric Either (Dec 2003 Civil War Times). Measles was only a part of the disease epidemic. Dysentery was number 1 with typhoid, pneumonia, tuberculosis and malaria contributing. It’s hard to imagine now, but the folk of the day did not understand that contaminated water and poor sanitation were the major facilitators of so much disease.
 ‘Jo Gilping’ is Joseph M.Gilpin married to James’ sister Elizabeth Dickerson Gilpin. His death on Sept 7th of that same year was communicated to his wife by a letter from W. J. Proctor, 1st SGT in company D. He writes,
“I embrace the present opportunity to communicate to you the painful intellegiance of the death of your husband. He died this morning about sunrise at the field hospital about one mile from the company. He had been complainine for a day or two. Yesterday mornin he seemed to be quite sick and only lived until this morning. I am informed that he died from inflamation of the bowels (gun shot). . . I deem it the duty of some member of this company to tell you of the sad fact and take the task upon myself. I’m not very well aquainted with you but am well acquainted with your father . . . ”
In Letter 9, James wants information from Clary to change his situation in the military stating that he ‘can’t live this life’. His possesions include a blanket, napsack and discarded knife.
In Letter 10 the strain of separation from his wife is manifest. It would be so interesting to know what Clary said in her letter dated June 4th. We can only imagine it expressed displeasure and some distrust after Letter 5 where James wrote about the women he had seen and his desire to go fishing with Clary. James ends letter 10 rather cold and business like.
The National Park Service website astutely describes the average soldier of the civil war; ‘They would face diseases they had never known and wounds they had never imagined. And through it all, these common-folk-turned-soldiers would endure homesickness to a degree none of them had ever envisioned.’
Letter Number 9
Richmond Virginia June the 10 1862
Dier wife I take the plesier of droping you a few lines to informe you that I am well at this time and I hope this will find you injoing the blesing I want you to rite to mee as soon as you git this leter I want you to rite to mee what ridment Wiley  is in Va and all about it for I don’t aime to sta her I can get a transfer to my brother anewher you can fine out from J. Grant  and from Any Brown  the life I live I cant live this life I have got one blanket and my napsack and the knife that lutie give to Brown the time of the retreat he throde it away and I pick it up and I am a going to fetch it home if I cane Nothing more at present only I remane youre husban until death
by D.J. Proctor to Mrs. C. Dickerson
 Wiley is James’ younger brother born 8 Oct 1835. He enlisted in the 32nd Confederate Infantry Regiment, Company H.
 J. Grant is probably J.L. Grant found living in Proctor, Monroe County, GA at the time of the 1860 census. He was born about 1825, was married and had 5 children.
 Any Brown is most likely Andrew J. Brown who enlisted in Company H of the 32nd GA Infantry Regiment on 6 May 1862 just as Wiley DICKERSON.
Letter Number 10
Virginia Richmond June the 14 1862
Dier wife I seat my self to informe you that I am well at this time I reseved yore leter dated the 4 witch I was sorry to her that you was displeise with the one I sent you  I ment no harme of it you did not understand it about not being at home when you rote I had no blank look nor the old man and wher did you git it and william Brown  told me that he heard your brother Henry say that he was going to move you closer to his hous and I rote to you I would be glad to be at home so mee and you could go afishing witch was no harme I have no spise ther [spies there] and I dont want you to rite to mee about none of youre Dam spise and if cant [d]o so I dont want you to rite at all you can use youre one plesier about it I think that the war will come to a close I am as hapy as if were soner I see yankes every Day tha have berloones  you dont rite whether you ar making any corne or not So good evening Nothing more at presant
J. H. DICKERSON
 Letter 5 dated May 24
 William Brown was from Monroe County GA and enlisted in Jame’s regiment on th 4 Mar 1862
 Union army balloons were a common site in the Richmond area. The ‘Gazelle’ and ‘Intrepid’ were two balloons used at this time.
From ‘Seven Days War Ballooning in the Civil War’ by James Green we learn:
” . . nearly daily balloon ascensions at Yorktown attracted much attention from the Confederates with the balloon being a constant target for their guns. Lowe stated, “the enemy opened upon it with their heavy siege guns or rifled field pieces, until it had attained an altitude to be out of reach, and repeated this fire when the balloon descended, until it was concealed by the woods.”
Understanding and forgiveness appear in Letter 11. The realities of war are described and as ever, James has a keen sensitivity to crops and prices of goods in the area. He still has no money and is concerned about his family having shoes.
The last letter, number 12 is penned by someone other than James due to his injury. He is in a Confederate Hospital in Richmond, VA.
Letter Number 11
Virginia richmond June the 20th
Dier wife I take the plesier of droping you a few lines to informe you that I am well at this time and I hope this will find you all well I reseved youre leter dated the 11 witch please me vary mutch to her that you was all well and you have become reconsiled about your spyses I a sorra to think you had that opinion of mee Wright pritchet died last night and his brother cant carry him home it cost $40-$50 dolers to barry ethring so ther is no chance for the pore I int to git my tipe to you for there is no chances there is one hundred men in this company and about thirty four duty tha ar qurd of them that —- it gives them the brake tha ar fiting every day in – ———the ole gineral burnt everything up the tents and everything we have only what we had on our backs tell my farther [father]  that tome [Tommy]  is her and looks as well as I ever seen him his ridgment is in our brigade Corne is three dolars a bushel her sirup is five dolars a galon are you making aney corne I reseved youre leter that tha ole mail in one day the 17 Yall rote to mee wether I got pleanty to eat or not I doo sutch as it is Bread and meat wheat bread at that wee git som beef ons a week I have got a bunch of wheet Crops is vary good her you don’t no how glad I would be to see you all I doo dreame about you aften times I think if I doo ever git out of this I will stay at home the balans of my dayes I don’t hav eny idea that tha war will last mutch longer you can tele Mr. Hamilton  that I cant her from William yaret no wher and if you and aletha and Monroe has not got no shoos you had beter speke in time I have got no money and I dont no when I will git eny I have red brownes  leter and they dont say aney thing about you so I will close by saing I am youre loving husban until Deth
 James’ father is William B. DICKERSON born 1797.
 Thomas DICKERSON born about 1820 is found living in Crowders, Monroe County GA in 1860. This may be ‘Tome’. Exact relationship to James and William is yet to be found.
 In the 1850 census, Arthur Hamilton, age 56 is neighbor to James and his first wife Sarah HOBBS.
 This is probably R.H. Brown born about the same time as James and is found on the 1850 and 1880 census of Monroe County, GA.
Letter Number 12
Richmond 4th Ga. Hospital
As have an oppertunity to get someone to write a few lines for me today and have it to say to you that I have been confined in this hospital since the 27th of June I hope I am slowly recovering though the doctors think there is some doubt yet about saving my wounded arm and hand. In other respects I am moderately well. I should have been at home soon after being wonded had I had the money and my wounds would ave done better and there would have been more chances in favour of saving my arm could have reached home. I want you to send your brother  on here as soon as convenient in order to accompany me back home I have been confined so closely that I have been unable to draw my pay consequently have been entirely without money since I have been here. If he cannot come here get John Coleman to come on in his stead. Furloughs are stopped at this time but will be resumed again in a few days by which time I may be able to travel which I am not at present. Let me hear from you soon, love to all
And remain your affectionate husband
 Clary’s brother is Henry J. McCoy about the same age as James.
James probably never considered that his 12 letters written in 1862 would be shared and read by his descendants. They were not meant for us but we have gleaned so much from his correspondence to his wife.
About 16 days after his injury,James died in the Richmond Hospital. From the military document it reads, “He was wounded in the hand from which gangrene developed causing his death in the hospital at Richmond a short time after being wounded. The precise date of his death not recollected.”
According to a Civil War Statistics site, the Confederates lost 94.000 men killed in battle, 164,000 to disease and 31,000 as prisoners of war for a total of 289,000 deaths. That left a lot of widows and orphans, not to mention devastation of the southern states where most of the fighting took place.
By 1870 Clara and son Monroe (age 10) were living with her mother, Charlotte McCoy age 75, brother Henry age 40, and older sister Jane age 51.
Aletha (Lethia) DICKERSON, James’ daughter from his first wife Sarah HOBBS was about 15 years old in 1862.
A tribute to the soldiers of the civil war states they were “highly independent-minded. They went off to war as citizen-soldiers: volunteers who tended to remain more citizen than soldier. Very seldom did these men became fully regimented and militarized. Many of them retained in large measure an ignorance of army life and an indifference to army discipline. In camp, on the march, and in battle, they fought with a looseness that no amount of training could remove. Soldiers on both sides demonstrated that they could be led but they could not be driven; and any officer who attempted the latter was bound to encounter at least resistance and at most rebellion. The individualism of the Civil War’s common soldiers was but a reflection of the societies that spawned them.
Typical human beings in mid-nineteenth century America, the army volunteers of North and South performed as one might expect. Many of them became outstanding soldiers, some of them had rather poor records, a few were shirkers and cowards; most of them, however, were just average. Yet for four horrible years those representatives of the nation’s common folk bore on their shoulders the heaviest responsibilities that have ever been placed on the people of this land. And they carried that burden so well that we still marvel at their strength and endurance.
Their story is a mixture of hardship, humor, and heroism—which are doubtless the ways in which Johnny Rebs and Billy Yanks would like to be remembered.” the National Park Service .
‘Thank you’ to James for being brave.