Monday, May 22, 2006

What I Last Read

**Welcome Civil War Bookshelf readers!**

"Rebel Private: Front and Rear" by William Fletcher
ISBN: 0452011574

I enjoyed this book, although I had to get back into the knack of careful reading. Fletcher was a veteran of the 5th Texas Infantry, and later, the 8th Texas Cavalry, better known as Terry's Texas Rangers.

This book, in my opinion, is one of the more honest veteran recountings of the war. Surprisingly, very little time is spent on describing battles, more time is spent on Fletcher's adventures in the aftermath. Even with the chapters telling which battle, it's hard to discern what part of the battle he's actually talking about. This gives his narrative a nod to the genuine. Soldiers didn't know the name of the battlefield until well after the fact, let alone the smaller actions, like Little Round Top.

Fletcher paints himself in a very modest and human light, exposing his own faults in a sometimes seeming self-depreciating manner, whereas many who wrote their memoirs at the same time tended to gloss over those details, or use a watered-down version of them to accentuate their next feat of daring-do, like with "The Thrilling Adventures of Daniel Ellis, Union Scout". He also insists that he never held any rank, although records do have mention his promotion to sergeant, which underscores his modest approach.

Much like "Company Aytch", "Rebel Private" doesn't expose much material detail for the reenactor. Fletcher's mind is on his experiences, and he spends little time on the details, which were probably becoming fuzzy at the time he wrote his memoirs. You won't find much information on arms or uniforms, but you will find plenty on the thought processes of the mind of a Southern soldier. Be warned, though, this book is not a polished work, and the paragraphs are long and winding. You need to read carefully to get the jist of the book.

This is a book very worthy of a place on any Civil War readers' shelf. I know that it'll get some repeated readings from me.

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