The Civil War: Strange and Fascinating Facts
Grammercy, 1991 (1960)
Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth
id you know that Abraham Lincoln was suffering from a mild case of smallpox when he delivered the Gettysburg Address? Or that Stonewall Jackson was a hypochondriac who probably precipitated his own death? Or that the Civil War was known by at least twenty-nine other names? If your answers are no, then join the club. I picked up this older book at a friend's home and asked to borrow it. I began expecting to just browse and pick out interesting tidbits, but soon found myself engrossed in each page. I discovered that this war was fought by young men. More than 2,000,000 Federal soldiers were twenty-one or under (of a total of some 2,700,000). Of these about 1,000,000 were fifteen or under. Three hundred were thirteen or under!!
he story of the first machine guns is told. And the famous quote of Barbara Fritchie ('
Shoot if you must this old gray head, but spare your country's flag
') is questioned. The chapters of the fervid abolitionist John Brown, the foreigners in the service of the North and South, the age of the officers, the personal side of Robert E. Lee, all bring to light very trying times endured by more than just the military. The citizens of both the North and South suffered untold cruelty and deprivation. A fact that appalls me is that 618,000 Americans died in the Civil War and some experts say the toll reached 700,000. These casualties are more than the nation's loss in all its other wars, from the Revolution through Korea. (Remember this is an older book and does not include Vietnam in its figures.)
he Civil War : Strange and Fascinating Facts
is an entrancing book; a
for the Civil War buff. While the horror of war lingers on every page, some of the tales told make it a very human story. Details like the dedicated women who fought in man's guise or the use of the first torpedo, make this is a book worth reading - if for nothing else, to have ready-at-hand expert trivia for your next cocktail party.
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