God Rest Ye Merry, Soldiers: A True Civil War Christmas Story

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9780452287693: God Rest Ye Merry, Soldiers: A True Civil War Christmas Story

In the tradition of the bestselling Silent Night: The Story of the World War I Christmas Truce, the true story of a Civil War Christmas miracle  In the waning days of 1862, Union and Confederate troops set up camp within earshot of one another in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Christmas had just passed, and for many of these battle-wearied young soldiers the holiday season was a melancholy reminder of the families and loved ones they’d left behind. Bands from both camps played patriotic songs in an attempt to raise spirits, a musical duel that presaged the bloody battle to come. Then, something extraordinary occurred. One of the bands began playing a popular sentimental tune called Home Sweet Home.” Soon, bands from both sides picked up the tune, and before long thousands of Northern and Southern soldiers had joined together in song.

God Rest Ye Merry, Soldiers: A True Civil War Christmas Story tells the tale of this yuletide interlude, which came at a time when the early optimism of the Civil War had given way to the bitter realities of seemingly endless bloodshed. Told through soldiers’ letters and period songs, God Rest Ye Merry, Soldiers is the hopeful and touching story of human compassion in the midst of unspeakable violence.

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About the Author:

JAMES MCIVOR is a freelance writer.

From Publishers Weekly:

This charming stocking stuffer recounts Christmas celebrations during the early Civil War, with an emphasis on how the holiday united opposing soldiers before the Battle of Stones River in 1862. Though Congress didn't decree Christmas a national holiday until 1870, it was spreading nationwide as an American tradition by the time the war broke out. In 1861, the first Civil War Christmas saw festivities in both Union and Confederate camps, but the second, after a bloody year of war, found soldiers on both sides realizing that the war was a common enemy. McIvor zooms in on the Union and Confederate armies camped near each other at Murfreesboro, Tenn., where on Christmas Eve 1862, their bands played favorite Northern and Southern tunes. When one band started "Home! Sweet Home!" thousands of homesick soldiers began to sing before being overcome by emotion, and the night fell silent. A few days later the armies clashed in one of the bloodiest battles of the war—but even amid the powder smoke soldiers helped one another's wounded and dead, marking friendly and enemy grave sites. Though this slim book skips lightly over dense history and has a slight sentimental flavor, it's distinctly readable and moving throughout. (Nov.)
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