Based on unpublished and carefully preserved letters from a Union soldier to his family, this fascinating book is a first-hand, day-by-day account of the Civil War as one of General Sherman's ""bummers"" met it on the march from Atlanta to the sea and into North Carolina. Holding the timeless vigor of contemporary records, the book tells the same story, from a different viewpoint, as does John M. Gibson's recently published account of the march, The 163 Days. With a pungency of style and phrase of which he was unaware, the author, a midwestern farmboy, writes in detail of the miseries and joys, if there were any, of Sherman's march. Cutting all communications when they left Atlanta, the men were told that they must live off the country or go hungry. ""We did both"", says the author, and tells of organized foraging, a war necessity but from his account by no means always the matter of brutal plunder and violence so often depicted. The men were always dirty; usually they were also hungry. Some officers were cruel, others kind; ""Sherman, he was a nice general."" Marching in rain was sheer horror: ""with our pants stuck in our stockings and our stockings held up with string, with the mud coming over the tops of our shoes, and the friend of man, the louse, holding squad drill on our backs."" There were some compensations: enemy artillery might give them ""fits"", but when the firing stopped men from both sides managed to meet and exchange coffee and tobacco, gossip and friendly warnings. In these letters, fresh as the day they were written, is the very stuff of the war. A must for all Civil War buffs.