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

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9781588383129: Journey to the Wilderness: War, Memory, and a Southern Family's Civil War Letters
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On the one-hundred-fiftieth anniversary of the Civil War, award-winning author Frye Gaillard reflects on the war―and the way we remember it―through letters written by his family, including his great-great grandfather and his two sons, both of whom were Confederate officers. As Gaillard explains in his 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 by members of his family, he confronted a far more sobering truth.

“Oh, this terrible war,” wrote his great-great-grandfather, 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 . . . Oddly, mine was also the one of the first generations to view the Civil War through the lens of civil rights―to see . . . connections and flaws in Southern history that earlier generations couldn’t bear to face.”

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From the Inside Flap:

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."

About the Author:

Frye Galliard is a writer in residence at the University of South Alabama and award-winning author of more than 20 books, including Watermelon Wine: The Spirit of Country Music, The Quilt: And the Poetry of Alabama Music, Journey to the Wilderness: War, Memory, and a Southern Family’s Civil War Letters, The Books That Mattered: A Reader’s Memoir, and Go South to Freedom, all published by NewSouth Books. His book A Hard Rain: America in the 1960s, Our Decade of Hope and Innocence Lost is forthcoming from NewSouth. He is the winner of the Lillian Smith Award, the Clarence Cason Award for Non-Fiction, the Alabama Library Association Book of the Year Award, and the 2016 Eugene Current-Garcia Award For Distinction in Literary Scholarship.

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