Tom Taylor's Civil War
Our hurly-burly sagas of war often overlook the deep connections between warriors and the families they left behind. In Tom Taylor's Civil War, eminent Civil War historian Albert Castel brings that familial connection back into sharp focus, reminding us again that soldiers in the field are much more than mere cogs in the machinery of war.
A young Ohio lawyer, Thomas Taylor was a junior officer who fought under Sherman at Vicksburg and Chattanooga and on the march through Georgia, and his diary and letters contain vivid descriptions of numerous skirmishes and battles over four years. By interweaving Taylor's words with his own narrative, Albert Castel has fashioned a work on the Civil War as engrossing as a novel; by also including letters from Taylor's wife, he has created a whole new dimension for viewing that conflict.
Often written under adverse conditions, Taylor's descriptions of military encounters are filled with vivid details and perceptive observations. His passages especially provide new insight into the Georgia campaign—including accounts of the Battles of Atlanta and Ezra Church—and into the role of middle-echelon officers in both camp and combat. Castel's bridging narrative is equally dramatic, providing an overview of the fighting that gives readers invaluable context for Taylor's eyewitness reports.
The book chronicles not only Taylor's military career but also the strains it placed on his marriage. Taylor had gone off to war both to fight for his Unionist beliefs and to enhance his reputation in his community, while his wife, Netta, was a peace Democrat whose letters constantly urged Tom to return home. Their epistolary conversation-rare among Civil War sources-reflects a relationship that was as politically charged as it was passionate. Taylor's passages also reveal his changing attitudes: from favoring strong measures against the rebels at the beginning of the war to eventually deploring the destruction he witnessed in Georgia.
Tom Taylor's Civil War is a moving account of one man whose life was ripped apart by war and of the woman back home who remained his anchor through it all. Combining the best features of biography and autobiography, it paints a compelling picture of that conflict that will stir the heart as much as the imagination.
University Press of Kansas
Citation for published book
Taylor, Castel, Castel, Albert E, & Taylor, Margaret Antoinette White. (2000). Tom Taylor's Civil War / [compiled by] Albert Castel. (Modern war studies).
Taylor, Thomas Thomson; Castel, Albert; and Taylor, Margaret Antoinette White, "Tom Taylor's Civil War" (2000). All Books and Monographs by WMU Authors. 530.