Failed Ambition: The Civil War Journals and Letters of Cavalryman Homer Harris Jewett

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Virtualbookworm.com Pub., 2004 - 284 páginas
Historians, civil war enthusiasts, genealogists and those who simply enjoy a good story will find this book a treasure trove. Homer writes with an attention to detail, carefully recording names, places and figures. He brings to the journals and letters his sense of humor and truthfulness, never missing the good story. And while he did not experience the epic battles of the civil war, he did experience a rich variety of adventures. Homer's devoted Christian mother and risk-taking father are both present in his character. This combination goes a long way in explaining his noble values (which are severely tested and at times found to be weak) and his unrelenting drive to achieve success in life. Weaved throughout the story is his on-again, off-again romance with sweetheart Bell back in Iowa. The adventure begins when he sets off from home, pumped with idealism and ambition, to apply for law school in Chicago. Homer meets with success. With this early success under his belt he journeys across the state of Illinois in an effort to raise funds. Having walked across the state without improving his balance sheet, Homer joins Colonel Bishop's Black Hawk Cavalry - a unit plagued with administrative difficulties. His initial assignment is on detached duty guarding government horses at Warsaw Illinois. In this quiet environment there are numerous opportunities to polish his social skills as he interacts with the locals and wins the hearts of their daughters. The good life ends when he rejoins his unit for regular duty in Missouri. Here he experiences the mini civil war between bushwhackers and jayhawkers that divided that state. The notorious Confederate fighter and bushwhacker Quantrill is ever present. A unique piece of civil war history is recorded when Homer, as part of a detachment, is sent to arrest other Union forces. Homer goes on to be wounded, captured and paroled while seeing action in battles and scouts in Missouri, Arkansas and Tennessee. As the war winds down, Homer's letters of 1865 and 1866 transition into his struggles in post-bellum Arkansas and Louisiana. Abundant footnotes, maps and other aids help the reader follow the account and supply valuable background detail.

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