The Civil War Journals of Col. Homer A. Plimpton
by John L. Dodson (Editor)
Trafford Publishing

"It is also reported that Savannah is captured. The death knell of this rebellion is sounding in these victories. The bones begin to crack as the great Anaconda commences tightening his folds."

The enemy was everywhere. Faced with the "warm work" of pitched battle, the grim reality of a battle's aftermath, or the stultifying boredom between engagements, Homer A. Plimpton knew what it meant to be surrounded. These were the enemies that surrounded him on a daily basis. Plimpton's war journals chronicle how he met and conquered them with courage, panache, and dignity.

Educated and astute, Plimpton's observations come across poignantly as the reader marches beside him, from his home in Illinois to the surrender of Robert E. Lee's army at Appomattox Courthouse. His voice echoes with a timbre similar to that of Gen. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain: the famed Union defender of Little Round Top, and a Bowdoin College professor. It is no stretch to imagine hearing Plimpton's story narrated alongside Chamberlain's in Ken Burns' acclaimed documentary, The Civil War. But what makes Plimpton's journals so compelling is, unsurprisingly, their authenticity. In his story, we see the Army of the Potomac demoralized by early losses, disheartened by the gore of battle, and—somehow—simultaneously bored by the unrelenting tedium of daily soldiering life.

Modern Civil War narratives often become bogged down in the grandiosity of generals, triumphs, and gun smoke. Plimpton's work contains all of that, but also serves the reader as an unblinking camera lens, documenting all aspects of war, from the mundane to the macabre. "War is all hell," as the Union Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman is rumored to have said. And Plimpton brings you close to the fire.

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