"Joseph Twichell's letters, written during his term with the Excelsior Brigade, constitute one of the most remarkable primary collections of those years. The letters give us marvelous insight into the experience of a quintessential reform-minded New England Congregationalist who was driven by a Calvinist sense of duty, a clear vision of a righteous America, and a New Testament sense of Christian justice. Throughout these letters, God and death are rarely far away."
—Richard J. Carwardine, author of Lincoln
Twichell writes about politics and slavery and the theological and cultural divide between him and his men. Most movingly, he tells of tending the helpless, burying the dead, and counseling the despondent. Alongside accounts of a run-in with slave hunters, a massive withdrawal of wounded soldiers from Richmond, and other extraordinary events, Twichell offers close-up views of his commanding officer, the "political general" Daniel Sickles, surely one of the most colorful and controversial leaders on either side.
Civil War scholars and enthusiasts will welcome this fresh voice from an underrepresented class of soldier, the army chaplain. Readers who know of Twichell's later life as a prominent minister and reformer or as Mark Twain's closest friend will appreciate these insights into his early, transforming experiences.
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