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Shelly's Book Journal

The 3 Rs: Reading, Reviews & Recs.

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Currently reading

The Civil War, Vol. 2: Fredericksburg to Meridian
Shelby Foote
Progress: 380/976 pages

Civil War Diary: "All for the Union" by Elisha Hunt Rhodes

All for the Union: The Civil War Diary & Letters of Elisha Hunt Rhodes - Elisha Hunt Rhodes, Robert Hunt Rhodes

  This book is the diary of Elisha Hunt Rhodes of the 2nd Rhode Island Volunteers which served during the Civil War. Rhodes keep a diary of his activities and movements and also shares some letters which he sent. The book gives the idea of life in the Union Army. Rhodes moves up through the ranks to Colonel in his time and serves from Bull Run to Appomattox court house.

I read this book to my boys as a "read aloud" to accompany our studies on the Civil War. While we often study battles, this book gave a us a great view of the day to day things a soldier in the Union Army did. We saw the organization, the mess, the picket duties and more. We noticed the change in Rhodes tones as the war progressed. His mantra "All for the Union" changed meaning through the war.

Since we ultimately know the outcome and any student of the conflict will understand the progression of events, we see that the day to day soldiers were insulated from a lot of the things going on around them.

I think this diary is particularly telling if read alongside a confederate diary or memoir. The contrast is remarkable. Reading Rhodes account of the surrender vs. that of a Confederate work we have is reading sorrow and joy in the same moment and effectively tells the entire story of the end.

Recommend for: Civil War students. This would be great for a high school class studying the conflict, even if only read in part.