Army life—A private's reminiscences of the civil war. By Rev. Theodore Gerrish
, late a member of the Twentieth Maine.
We have read this book through with unflagging interest, and in the main, with great pleasure.
As a vivid narrative of what a private soldier in the Army of the Potomac saw, and felt during those days of camp, march, bivouack, battlefield and hospital, it possesses great interest and value.
And as long as Mr. Gerrish
confines himself to what he saw
, his narrative is, doubtless, accurate and valuable material for the historian who shall wish to write the inside life
of that great army.
But we regret that candor compels us to add, that he by no means confines himself to what he saw, but frequently goes into the land of speculation and fancy, and mars his pages by opinions
utterly at variance with established facts, and many of which smack more of the bitterness of a stormy past, than of ‘the era of good feeling between the sections,’ which it should be the duty of all to cultivate in these years after the close of the war. E. g
.—His speculations and opinions about Belle Isle
, and the prison question generally, in which he justifies the hanging of Wirtz
, but attributes the responsibility of ‘murdering thousands of Union soldiers’ to the ‘hellish malice’ of the ‘representative men of the Southern Confederacy, two of the most prominent of whom were Jefferson Davis
and Robert E. Lee
,’ displays on his own part a blind ‘malice,’ only equalled by his profound ignorance of the facts, We shall hereafter pay our respects to some of these remarkable utterances— remarkable for one writing in 1882 instead of 1865—and show up their utter absurdity.
Meantime, if Mr. Gerrish
can produce a single one of the ‘orders’ from General Lee
or President Davis
, or any other prominent Confederate leader which, either directly or indirectly, approved of cruelty to prisoners, he will make a contribution to history, which Holt
and his infamous band of Perjurers, in the days when the ‘Bureau of Military Justice
’ was flourishing, sought for in vain.
But despite of these very serious blots, it is a well written book, which we advise our friends to read.