Cover image for Abraham's battle : a novel of Gettysburg
Abraham's battle : a novel of Gettysburg
Banks, Sara H., 1942-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 1999.
Physical Description:
88 pages ; 22 cm
In 1863, as the Civil War approaches his home in Gettysburg and he realizes that a big battle is about to begin, a freed slave named Abraham decides to join the ambulance corps of the Union Army.
General Note:
"An Anne Schwartz book."
Reading Level:
750 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 5.3 2.0 29341.

Reading Counts RC 3-5 4.8 6 Quiz: 21989 Guided reading level: NR.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
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Item Holds
X Juvenile Fiction Central Closed Stacks
X Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf
X Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf

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"Four score and seven seven years ago..." Before Abraham Lincoln uttered these immortal words, Union and Confederate soldiers met in the bloodiest battle of the Civil War. The year was 1863, and the men that fought on both sides were not just nameless faces, they were individuals.Abraham Small is a free black man -- an ex-slave -- who is now the caretaker of a Gettysburg estate and its owner's spirited young daughter. Private Lamar Cooper is a white Confederate soldier, a poor boy who has never known a slave and barely understands the cause he is fighting for. The two meet by chance before the battle -- only long enough to establish that they both miss their homeland, and to crystallize for Abraham that he should be fighting for what he believes in: the end of slavery.Their paths cross one more time, on the battlefield of Gettysburg. Abraham is now a member of the Union ambulance corps; Lamar a critically wounded soldier. Should Abraham aid this boy who is his enemy? Are there moments when differences vanish and we are all simply human beings with a duty to help one another?In Sara Harrell Banks's powerful novel -- culminating in a moving encounter between Abraham Small and Abraham Lincoln -- this difficult question is eloquently addressed.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 4^-7. When Abraham Small, a former slave, meets Confederate soldier Lamar Cooper just before the battle of Gettysburg, the two reminisce about the South, and Abraham shares his food with young Lamar. Their chance meeting makes Abraham realize that he must help the Union fight slavery, so he signs up as an ambulance driver. As he helps collect the wounded after the battle, he finds Lamar badly hurt and takes him to the Union doctor. Several weeks later, Abraham receives a package of okra seeds from Lamar's brother, thanking him for helping Lamar, who has died. Months later, when President Lincoln comes to give the Gettysburg Address, Abraham takes Lincoln to the battlefield to pay his respects while telling the President about Lamar. This very personal account, well-written and filled with Southern expressions and historical details, focuses on the common humanity that survives despite political differences and the horrors of war. Lincoln's Gettysburg Address is included in its entirety. --Karen Hutt

Publisher's Weekly Review

This flimsy Civil War novel offers two views of the decisive three-day battle of Gettysburg: one through Abraham, a former slave living in the Pennsylvania town, and the other through 16-year-old Lamar, a Confederate soldier. As troops from both sides rally, Abraham and Lamar meet by chance in a field. Supposedly due to their shared Southern heritage, these two enemies put aside their loyalties to discuss their homes, the Underground Railroad and their views on slavery. However, their dialogue is contrived to establish skeletal facts about the war rather than to reveal much about either man's character (at one point Lamar says, "Tell you the truth, I never pondered much on slavery"). Disheartened by Lamar's vague reasons for fighting, Abraham determines he must act on his own convictions and volunteers himself and his mule, Charity, to drive an ambulance (predictably, he ends up finding a wounded Lamar). Vivid descriptions of nature evoke the beauty of the land and the pregnant pause before imminent conflict. The strongest episode occurs in the final chapter when President Lincoln arrives to dedicate the Gettysburg battlefield as a national cemetery (his famous address is reprinted here in its entirety). Readers may gain a new understanding of the enduring legacy of Lincoln's concise and illustrious words, but will likely forget these disappointingly thin and archetypal characters. Ages 9-13. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 5-7-Ex-slave Abraham Small is now a freeman living in Gettysburg, PA. On the day before the battle, while picnicking with his employer's young daughter, he meets Lamar Cooper, a 16-year-old Confederate soldier. Lamar is a poor farmer, not a slave owner, and Abraham is the first black man he has ever met. Abraham, with dark memories of his captivity, is wary of the young man. Still, he shares his picnic with him. This encounter convinces Abraham that he should be fighting for the Union and against slavery, and he volunteers as an ambulance driver. Later, during the battle, he happens upon the wounded Lamar and takes him to a field hospital. The nature of war and animosity are simply explored in a manner that will cause young readers to think about such issues themselves. To sophisticated readers, Abraham might seem almost too eloquent and too noble, and the secondary characters are only sketchily drawn. The final scenes, wherein Abraham escorts Abraham Lincoln around the battlefield, are somewhat contrived, although they portray the president in a human, touching way. For young readers struggling to understand the complex topic of the Civil War, this quiet novel will yield thought-provoking ideas and humanize that terrible conflict.-Elizabeth M. Reardon, McCallie School, Chattanooga, TN (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.