Cover image for Tom Taylor's Civil War
Tom Taylor's Civil War
Taylor, Thomas Thomson, 1836-1908.
Publication Information:
Lawrence : University Press of Kansas, [2000]

Physical Description:
xv, 256 pages : illustrations, maps ; 24 cm.
General Note:
Comprises Taylor's diaries and letters to and from his wife, Margaret Taylor.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
E601 .T295 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



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.

Author Notes

Albert Castel is one of the most respected and prolific scholars in the Civil War community. He has won several prizes for his work, most notably the 1993 Lincoln Prize.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 1

Booklist Review

"Ordinary" soldiers such as Sam Watkins and Elijah Hunt Rhodes have given us accounts of their Civil War experiences. Of course, we have a plethora of journals and memoirs by high-ranking officers, from James Longstreet to U. S. Grant. Here, we have an unusual and often fascinating collection of letters and journal entries from a well-educated, eloquent attorney who served as a junior officer in some of the most critical campaigns of the war. At the age of 24, Taylor left his Ohio law practice and his wife and two young children to enlist in the Union army. He fought in the Vicksburg campaign and in Sherman's "march to the sea" through Georgia. Castel, an eminent Civil War historian, has combined excerpts from Taylor's letters and journal with his own commentaries. The result is an absorbing and emotionally wrenching glimpse at the toll taken on an intelligent, sensitive man by the strains of combat and separation from his family. Castel's comments are never intrusive and clarify some of the murkier military details. --Jay Freeman

Table of Contents

Prefacep. ix
Acknowledgmentsp. xiii
Prologue: The Heavy Tramp of Thousands April-August 1861p. 1
1 I Want to Distinguish Myself September-December 1861p. 14
2 What Have I Accomplished? January-December 1862p. 29
3 The Almighty Will Preserve Me January-July 1863p. 52
4 We Will Achieve Mighty Victories July-November 1863p. 73
5 I Have Calculated, Worked and Talked November 1863-March 1864p. 93
6 Once More Into the Breach March 26-June 5, 1864p. 107
7 Oh, Jerusalem, Jerusalem June 6-July 9, 1864p. 126
8 Hell, Stranger, This Is No Place for Me to Halt! July 9-22, 1864p. 139
9 We Had Another Big Fight July 23-30, 1864p. 151
10 I Am an American Slave! July 31-August 25, 1864p. 160
11 The Enemy Charged Upon Our Lines August 26-September 8, 1864p. 174
12 I'm One Big Halo September 8-November 9, 1864p. 185
13 A Scene of Destruction and Woe November 10-December 13, 1864p. 194
14 A Brigadier General or Dead December 15, 1864-August 30, 1865p. 206
Epilogue: Section 1, Lot 19p. 228
Notesp. 235
Indexp. 251