Cover image for Desolating this fair country : the Civil War diary and letters of Lt. Henry C. Lyon, 34th New York
Desolating this fair country : the Civil War diary and letters of Lt. Henry C. Lyon, 34th New York
Lyon, Henry C. (Henry Clinton), 1837-1862.
Publication Information:
Jefferson, N.C. : McFarland & Co., [1999]

Physical Description:
xi, 209 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
E523.5 34TH .L96 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Grosvenor Room Non-Circ

On Order



Henry C. Lyon volunteered for the United States Army at the very beginning of the War Between the States. He was articulate, passionate, and committed to the Union. His love for his family and country is evident in the letters he wrote home and the diary he began keeping on January 1, 1862. His diary and the 23 letters collected here are powerful firsthand accounts of the War, the Union Army, and one soldier's thoughts and emotions. These documents follow Lyon from the 1860 Republican Convention in which he supported Lincoln, to his enlistment, through his involvement in crucial battles at Fair Oaks, Second Manassas, and South Mountain, to his mortal wounding in the West Woods at the battle of Antietam on September 17, 1862.His words chronicle his personal responses, as well as historical moments. His is a sensitive and detailed account, presented in a format that does not alter his voice as a writer. The text is complemented with photographs, a roster of the 34th New York Volunteer Infantry, appendix, and bibliography.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Radigan, the town historian of Pulteney, New York, edited the perceptive letters and diary entries of Lt. Henry C. Lyon, who came from her hometown. A delegate at the 1860 Republican Convention, Lyon expressed satisfaction with Lincoln. His writings emphasize service from his enlistment until his death at Antietam. Better educated than his comrades, he discussed his health and mood--he wrote his mother that "I am happy as a clam"--the need to preserve the union, the value of family correspondence, the importance of military leadership, the punishment of soldiers, the physical demands of marches and picket duty, and meetings with Confederate soldiers whom he respected but once called "swine." Much of the information that Lyon provided can be found in similar sources, but this patriot's description of battle at Fair Oaks and Second Manassas are particularly graphic. The editing is much too skimpy--a more thorough description of campaigns, individuals, and incidents would assist most readers. The maps and photographs are useful. Recommended for those interested in an uncommon man as a common soldier and in the Army of the Potomac. General readers; undergraduates. G. T. Edwards; Whitman College