First-person accounts detailing the many aspects of the Civil War: a companion to Meltzer's The American Revolutionaries: A History in Their Own Words (1987). Meltzer includes documents covering not only the fighting but also the differing points of view on slavery that led to the war; the economic struggles of people left at home; the frightful medical conditions and prison camps; and the war's aftermath. Using actual participants' letters and journals makes searing descriptions--of such events as massive cannon onslaughts and punishing retreats--seem both real and personal; the account of Lincoln's death is especially moving. The short introductions to the excerpts outline the war's progress while putting the quotations in perspective: as one woman rejoices that "My Precious is home," Meltzer cites the staggering death toll. The focus on personal narrative necessarily precludes an in-depth description of the war's causes or course (e.g., slavery and states' rights are emphasized as the war's only causes, and John Brown comes off as a saint). The strength, immediacy, and human feeling are what count here. Grand, authentic source material. Suggested reading; index.