Tully McCrea served in the U.S. Army for 40 years and his youthful letters to a younger cousin span his years at West Point and his life as a junior officer during the Civil War. The greater part of actual letters date from the West Point days, when no detail was too trivial, and when he precisely recorded the weekly round of training, discipline (Thayer's new program was taking effect), the penalties of minor infringements, the courses, the relations between instructors and pupils- and the fellow cadets, many of whom became known in the years following. For instance, his comments on Custer, a year his senior and his plebe year roommate, are in contradistinction to Custer's own story in his memoirs. Events and character come alive. The letters are perhaps one third of the whole; the running commentary holds close to the known facts, with the effect of setting the letters in a frame of happenings, which allowing them to speak for themselves, full of youthful frustrations, ebullience, reflection of the life at West Point. The war years include more narration and less direct quotation- and are, frankly, less interesting. And at the close, the romantic reader will be disappointed that he married someone else...There is to be an introduction by Bruce Catton who feels there is always room for good first hand records such as this.