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Journey to the Wilderness: War, Memory and a Southern Family's Civil War Letters

Frye Gaillard

NewSouth Books
978-1-58838-312-9
$23.95 hardcover
6 x 8
160 pages
March 2015

On the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, award-winning author Frye Gaillard reflects on the war--and the way we remember it--through the lens of letters written by his family, including great-great grandfather, Thomas Gaillard, and Thomas's sons, Franklin and Richebourg, both of whom were Confederate officers.

As Frye Gaillard explains in his deeply felt introductory essay, he came of age in a Southern generation that viewed the war as a glorious lost cause. But as he read through letters collected and handed down by members his family, he confronted a far more sobering truth. "Oh, this terrible war," wrote Thomas Gaillard. "Who can measure the troubles -- the affliction -- it has brought upon us all?"

To this real-time anguish in voices from the past, Gaillard offers a personal remembrance of the shadow of war and its place in the haunted identity of the South. "My own generation," he writes, "was, perhaps, the last that was raised on stories of gallantry and courage, an admiration of the dashing generals who led our fighting men into battle, and whose heroism was undiminished by defeat. Oddly, mine was also the one of the first generations to view the Civil War through the lens of civil rights--to see, often quite reluctantly, connections and flaws in southern history that earlier generations couldn't bear to face."

 

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