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Download Turned Inside Out: Recollections of a Private Soldier in the Army of the Potomac epub

by JAMES M. MCPHERSON,Frank Wilkeson

This memoir is no misty-eyed bit of nostalgia. Frank Wilkeson writes, he tells us, because "the history of the fighting to suppress the slave holders’ rebellion, thus far written, has been the work of commanding generals. The private soldiers who won the battles, and lost them through the ignorance and incapacity of commanders, have scarcely begun to write the history from their point of view."  Wilkeson’s is a firsthand account of the fumbles and near-cowardice of the commanders, of their squandering of opportunity, materiel, and human life; yet it also portrays foolishness, cupidity, recklessness, and sloth in the ranks. Wilkeson believes stoutly in the virtues of private soldiers who enlisted early in the war; he has a jaundiced eye for the bounty-hunter, conscript, immigrant, and Johnny-come-lately soldiers of the 1864 army. Nor does he cover the battlefield with the haze of glory; he writes frankly and directly of the scenes of death and mutilation, of battlegrounds covered with dead and dying men and animals in the hot summer sun.
Download Turned Inside Out: Recollections of a Private Soldier in the Army of the Potomac epub
ISBN: 0803297998
ISBN13: 978-0803297999
Category: History
Subcategory: Americas
Author: JAMES M. MCPHERSON,Frank Wilkeson
Language: English
Publisher: University of Nebraska Press (October 1, 1997)
Pages: 246 pages
ePUB size: 1192 kb
FB2 size: 1624 kb
Rating: 4.2
Votes: 675
Other Formats: rtf txt lit lrf

• 1 map. No images. No footnotes. No index. 246 pages.
• Introduction (5 pgs) by James M. McPherson.
• A Union soldier’s autobiographical memoir written two decades after the Civil War.
A zealous, patriotic, under-aged teenager sneaks off to Albany, NY to enlist in the Union Army in late 1863. He reports [and is sworn in 28 Mar 1864]. Frank finds himself in an unimagined army in transition whose replacements and increased manpower is composed of bounty-jumpers, paid substi-tutes, foreign-born flotsam & jetsam, and uninformed rural Americans.
The first two chapters deal with this culture shock and the harsh discipline necessary to transport the unruly, motley crew to the front with the Wilderness as their first battle. Wilkeson leaves his [11th NY Light Artillery] battery and gathers infantry accouterments heading towards the sound of gunfire to fight alongside the infantrymen. The Wilderness was too dense & rugged for artillery to maneuver. Back with his battery, Frank is further seasoned during the morale sapping and heavy combat casualties of the Overland Campaign. (These six chapters provide a ground eye’s view of combat and survival unlike the generals’ views described in their highly disproportionate Civil War memoirs and “histories”.) Wilkeson’s spirit is fully broken by the costly June 1864 assaults on the Dimmock Line and strong earthworks at Petersburg (Chapter 9).
Disillusioned, his anger and disgust torrentially pour out in his most impassioned, climactic chapter addressing the adversely, changed quality of soldiers in the Army of the Potomac; the feckless, poor quality of Union military leadership, and contrasts McClelland and Grant’s leading of the Army of the Potomac (Chapter 10). Toning it down a notch, Frank observes and reflects on dying and death in the ranks (Chapter 11).
Three anti-climatic chapters conclude this memoir with several observations and reflections --- each worthy of their own discussion. The public and military response to Jubal Early’s raid down the Shenandoah Valley northward towards the U.S. capital Washington DC. Rapid deployment to the Federal prison in Elmira, NY, to quell ominous, mutinous threats by Confederate prisoners. (This chapter includes Frank’s comparison of perceived prison conditions on both sides.) During the closing chapter describing the odyssey to reach his new artillery assignment as a regular Army 2nd lieutenant, Wilkeson observes and considers the ruinous condition of the mountainous southwestern Confederacy countryside, civilian refugees fleeing guerrilla warfare, emancipated Negroes groping for an unclear, safe, new place in society, and bushwhackers. Along this journey, Frank pauses to state why he is writing this memoir, e.g. p208.

Descriptions of military operations are kept simple and focus on Wilkeson’s battery. However, sufficient terrain and military unit information is provided that one could determine just where Frank physically was during these battles if you choose to do so.

Frank Wilkeson (b 8 Mar 1848 - d 21 Apr 1913) son of Samuel Wilkeson (a Civil War correspondent for the NY Times) & Catherine Cady (sister of abolitionist & suffragette Elizabeth Cady Stanton). An older brother Bayard (age 19) died while commanding an artillery battery on Barlow’s Knoll at the battle of Gettysburg (which their father was covering). His childhood neighbor was 13th U.S. President Millard Fillmore (term 1850-1853). [source: wikipedia]
Great book. Thank you.
It's been over two weeks and nothing in the mailbox. No tracking available...was hoping to have it for an upcoming road trip. I'll revise this review when I've read it.
Only recently have I come across Frank Wilkeson's grim little book; and I am surprised I had not been made aware of it years before--say, in school. There must be thousands--perhaps tens of thousands--of Civil War memoirs, with few of them being worth more than a cursory skimming. Wilkeson's book goes far beyond this, and deserves to rank as literature. Perhaps its vituperative tone is what has stood in the way of its wider recognition. Frank Wilkeson's father was the noted war corespondent Samuel Wilkeson. His brother Bayard was a 19-year-old artillery lieutenant whose death on the first day of the Battle of Gettysburg provided him with the cloak of immortality that often is the reward of young lives wasted in battle. Frank, Bayard's younger brother, never says what effect his brother's heroic death had on his decision to join the Army, too; but at 16 he ran away to enlist. He found himself part of a group of a thousand professional bounty-jumpers, a low and besotted crew with whom he was forced to travel into action. Coming from a dutiful and relatively refined family, the discovery that such men existed--and in enormous numbers--must have come as an overwhelming shock to him. Much of the book deals with Wilkeson's service as an artilleryman during some of the fiercest fighting of the war--the Wilderness, Spottsylvania, Petersburg. His descriptions of camp life and of battle, wounds, and death, are graphic and unforgettable.
Frank Wilkeson's short account of his Union Army service has understandably become a classic. Written in the 1880s in the midst of a surfeit of generals' memoirs, regimental histories, and other literature that put a positive spin on the bloodiest of American wars, Wilkeson set out to write a grimly unsentimental corrective to such rosy accounts. One wonders what 19th-century readers--particularly those too young to remember the war's realities--made of his descriptions of bounty jumpers shot dead as they attempted desertion or the widespread thievery among soldiers. Unfortunately, it's pretty obvious that Wilkeson embellished his account. Historian William Marvel has written articles detailing Wilkeson's distortions and omissions, such as his claim that he received no enlistment bounty and his less-than-convincing description of abandoning his artillery battery to fight on his own hook in the Wilderness. If nothing else, however, Wilkeson's memoir is unusual, riveting, and opens a window into the mindset of a Civil War veteran who rejected the glorified war literature of his era.
Frank Wilkeson's memoirs make compelling reading. From the first page to the last, you are swept along with this feisty, spirited young man who wants nothing more than to fight for his bleeding country. I was especially drawn to the quality of his writing. It is clear, vivid, terse, and ironic.At story's end, readers will, indeed, want to know what became of him. I was not surprised to learn that William Dean Howells compared aspects of this book to some of Tolstoy's writings. I especially recommend it for teenagers.
This is a great book for teenagers. Frank himself was about 16 years old when the events took place. I believe a teenager will particularly find interesting a peer's view of the Civil War. I also recommend it for adults. It's entertaining, educational and a quick read. NOTE: The final chapter explains some of the slang and terminology used in the beginning of the book.