REBEL PRIVATE: FRONT AND REAR: Memoirs of a Confererate Soldier by William A. Fletcher

REBEL PRIVATE: FRONT AND REAR: Memoirs of a Confererate Soldier

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KIRKUS REVIEW

An absorbing memoir of the battles of Seven Days, Second Manassas, Fredericksburg, Gettysburg, and Chickamauga. Young Fletcher served with the famed Hood's Texans and Eighth Texas Cavalry; twice wounded, he helped harass Sherman's rear guard during the ""march to the sea."" Born on the eastern Texas/western Louisiana frontier, he comes across in his writings as an intelligent, resourceful, common-sense leader who displayed courage and independence. Fletcher also proves to be an engaging man: He seems to have never felt animosity toward his Yankee foes, and he built a hospital in 1897 to thank the compassionate Catholic nuns who saved his leg from amputation during the war, though he was criticized for it by fellow Protestants. Poor and short on formal education, he was an avid reader who managed a successful lumber business in the depressed Reconstruction South. Fletcher describes volunteering for risky assignments where he could be on his own: as an advance scout probing for military intelligence, a courier in the midst of battle, a master forager acquiring vital food supplies, livestock, clothing, and whiskey from farmers or townspeople in his army's path. He relates his capture, his hardships as a prisoner of war, his daring escape, and his trying journey back to Texas after Lee's surrender. Valuable for its account of the war, Fietcher's narrative has an interesting history of its own: Originally published in 1907, almost all copies were destroyed in a 1908 fire; but Civil War historians found one in the Library of Congress, and Margaret Mitchell claimed the book was her single most valuable resource in researching Gone with the Wind. An informal and impressionistic account of some Civil War incidents as seen from the ranks; ghostly memories from a man of character.

Pub Date: July 10th, 1995
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Dutton