Brink of Destruction: A Quotable History of the Civil War

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9781581820058: Brink of Destruction: A Quotable History of the Civil War
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Brink of Destruction"": A Quotable History of the Civil War, edited by Randall Bedwell, is a no-holds-barred look at the American Civil War through 450 quotations by the people who fought in it. Period photographs aid in conveying the character of the war to present-day readers and capturing the moods and emotions of the times.""

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"The time for war has not yet come, but it will come; and when it does come, my advice is to draw the sword and throw away the scabbard."--Thomas Jonathan Jackson, to the cadets at the Virginia Military Institute, April 13, 1861

"To hear the young orators tell of how they would protect the flag, and that they would come back with the flag or come back not at all, and if they fell they would fall with their backs to the field and their feet to the foe, would fairly make our hair stand on end with intense patriotism, and we wanted to march right off and whip twenty Yankees."--Confederate Pvt. Sam Watkins, 1st Tennessee Infantry, following a flag presentation ceremony to his regiment

"I cannot give you an idea of the terrors of this battle [First Manassas]. For ten long hours, it literally rained balls, shells, and other missiles of destruction. The sight of the dead, the cries of the wounded, the thundering noise of battle can never be put on paper. The dead, the dying, and the wounded all mixed up together. Friend and foe embraced in death. Some crying for water. Some praying their last prayers. Some trying to whisper to a friend their last farewell message to their loved ones at home. It was heartrending."--Confederate soldier Jesse Reed, 8th South Carolina Infantry

"Someone recently mentioned the wonderful resources of old Tennessee,...but a fine young oak at Shiloh...was the most valuable piece I ever saw."--Pvt. M. E. Boysell, 58th Ohio Infantry

"I could see dimly through the dense sulphurous battle smoke and the line from Shakespeare's Tempest flitted across my brain: Hell is empty and all the devils are here."--Pvt. Frederick C. Foard, 20th North Carolina Infantry, battle of South Mountain

"Where men fell and left a vacant place other men stepped into their places and although death stared us in the face there was not a man who faltered."--Pvt. Josiah F. Murphey, 20th Massachusetts Infantry, after the battle of Fredericksburg

"White-winged peace didn't roost at Little Round Top that night! There was not a man there that cared a snap for the golden rule, or that could have remembered one line of the Lord's Prayer. Both sides were whipped, and all were furious about it."--Sgt. Valerius C. Giles, 4th Texas Infantry, at Gettysburg

"There are thousands of men in the prime of life who this morning thought they were destined to live to a ripe old age who tonight are lying on the battlefield stark and stiff and who will be covered where they fell with a few shovels full of dirt and left to rot with nothing to mark the place where a hero perished for his country and that the government might live."--Cpl. William B. Miller, 75th Indiana Infantry, at Chickamauga

"My shoes are gone; my clothes are almost gone. I'm weary, I'm sick, I'm hungry. My family have been killed or scattered. And I have suffered all this for my country. I love my country....But if this war is ever over, I'll be damned if I ever love another country!"--an anonymous soldier in Longstreet's corps, during the retreat to Appomattox

"Were the thing to be done over again, I would do as I then did. Disappointments have not changed my convictions."--Jefferson Davis

Review:

It's not a one-volume history and it doesn't purport to be one, but Brink of Destruction lives up to its subtitle: "A Quotable History of the Civil War." The paperback volume is illustrated with Civil War-era photographs and contains more than 450 quotations. Bedwell supplies commentary in the chronological compilation, sure to be a welcome addition to the library of any history buff. -- Beckley (W.V.) Register-Herald

One can learn a lot from quotes of the famous and the ordinary people involved in the war. Randall Bedwell has put together a quotable history of the Civil War [that] captures the thoughts and emotions of the times much clearer than ordinary history. -- Abilene (Tex.) Reporter-News

Yeah, I know. Not ANOTHER Civil War book. But wait. This one IS different. Enthusiasts will find many of the quotations familiar. Others are less familiar and, because of their freshness, even after 135 years, all the more appealing. The most striking aspect of the quotes is the similarity in the attitudes of both Confederate and Union soldiers. Each saw his cause as noble, even sacred. Two great armies, two nations, each believing it was defending the cause of liberty and justice, each with soldiers who spoke, with their dying breaths, of home and of mother or father. Powerful stuff. It makes a good and moving read, even for brief snatches of time, and may be the most complete collection of quotes about the Civil War in print. -- Wilson (N.C.) Times

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