The Complete Civil War Journal and Selected Letters of Thomas Wentworth Higginson

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9780226333304: The Complete Civil War Journal and Selected Letters of Thomas Wentworth Higginson

"I desire to record, as simply as I may, the beginnings of a momentous military experiment, whose ultimate results were the reorganization of the whole American army and the remoulding of the relations of two races on this continent. . . . I can only hope that the importance of the subject may save me from that egotism which makes great things seem little and little things seem less in the narrating."

So wrote Thomas Wentworth Higginson about his role in one of the most compelling and fascinating episodes in the history of the United States. As the colonel of the first regiment of black men in the Union army during the Civil War, Higginson was an early, articulate, and powerful crusader for civil rights, and his journal and letters, collected for the first time in this volume, present some of the most extraordinary documents of the Civil War.

Higginson was a politically engaged intellectual at the forefront of radical antislavery, labor, and feminist causes. Born in 1823 to a formerly wealthy but still prominent Brahmin family, he became one of America's leading social activists and a prominent writer, minister, and reformer. With the publication in 1869 of his classic Army Life in a Black Regiment, which drew on this journal, Higginson became one of the most important chroniclers of the Civil War. The Complete Civil War Journal and Selected Letters of Thomas Wentworth Higginson is the first comprehensive edition of his journal. Sensitively and thoroughly annotated by Christopher Looby and supplemented by a large selection of Higginson's wartime letters, this volume offers the most vivid and intimate picture of the radical interracial solidarity brought about by the transformative experience of the army camp and of Civil War life.

"The immediacy of Higginson's reflections, as well as their sharp insights, make this journal both distinctive and enduringly compelling . . . . Higginson's vivid texts can once again educate, gratify and delight readers."—Publishers Weekly

"This volume will enrich our understanding of the transformations that emancipation and war wrought."—Library Journal

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From Kirkus Reviews:

The lively and detailed wartime diary of the leader of the first black regiment to be formed in the Civil War offers a refreshingly uncensored portrait of life in the Union Army from an officer's point of view. Long an outspoken advocate of abolition, Higginson served for several years as the commanding officer of the First South Carolina Volunteers, a regiment composed largely of former slaves, meant to demonstrate that the black man, when given the opportunity, was as brave and capable as any white. In 1869, Higginson, drawing heavily on his diary, published Army Life in a Black Regiment, an essential account of African-American experience in the war. But the original journal format allows Higginson a greater frankness in discussing his men, his motivations, and wars weird mix of numbing routine and terror. Already a published essayist, Higginson made use of the privacy his diary offered to record candid assessments of other officers, and to capture the raw humor that develops among men in combat. His portraits of the soldiers (including, in some cases, anecdotes of their horrific experiences as slaves), of the routines of camp life (everything from picket duty to marriages and deaths), and of southern landscapes all have great impact. He is also amazingly frank about his divided feelings for his men. Higginson was prepared to give his life in the cause of emancipation, but he admitted to himself that he knew, and cared to know, few of his men well. His letters back home offer further fresh details about the war. And the clear and useful annotations and lengthy introduction by Looby (English/Univ. of Pennsylvania) place Higginson's experiences in a broader historical context. A model of how such material should be presented and a fascinating glimpse of a regiment that helped, by its formation and success, to make history. (12 halftones) -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

From Publishers Weekly:

This journal, from which Higginson drew his celebrated memoir, Army Life in a Black Regiment, finally receives its deserved full publication. Higginson (1823-1911) was a minister, naturalist, ardent abolitionistAhe was one of the "secret six" who supported John BrownA and commander of the 1st South Carolina Volunteers, one of the Union's earliest forces of freed slaves during the Civil War. (He is also remembered as the principal correspondent of Emily Dickinson.) Providing needed definitions and identifications, Looby's edition also includes letters that throw further light on Higginson's principal concern: the rapidly changing relations between the two races during warfare in the South. The immediacy of Higginson's reflections, as well as their sharp insights, make this journal both distinctive and enduringly compelling. For example, he recorded the halting steps required of both blacks and whites, such as simply learning to call each other "Mr.," as both peoples grappled with the implications of manumission. The introduction by Looby (a professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania) gives a somewhat literary and fashionable reading of the journal, throwing light it upon gender bending and homosocial behavior. A historian, however, would have emphasized Higginson's extraordinary effort to see his black soldiers and other former slaves as humans who, like himself, were trying to make sense of their rapidly changing world. Higginson's vivid texts can once again educate, gratify and delight readers.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Book Description The University of Chicago Press, United States, 1999. Hardback. Book Condition: New. 2nd ed.. Language: English . Brand New Book. Thomas Wentworth Higginson was a politically engaged intellectual at the forefront of antislavery, labour and feminist causes. Born in 1823 to a formerly wealthy but still prominent Brahmin family, he became one of America s foremost social activists and a leading writer, minister and reformer. With the publication in 1869 of his Army Life in a Black Regiment , Higginson became an important chronicler of the American Civil War. This work is a comprehensive edition of his journal. Annotated by Christopher Looby and including a selection of Higginson s wartime letters, the volume offers a picture of the radical interracial solidarity brought about by the transformative experience of the army camp and of Civil War life. Bookseller Inventory # FLT9780226333304

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