Sherry Garland has written a book about the War Between the States that holds both sides in equal light. Instead of right or wrong, Union or Confederate, her focus is humanity. The book is composed of a series of letters. Although not taken from historical record, the letters (dated and in chronological order) capture elements of human nature that are universally associated with war: courage, bravery, leadership, and honor followed by fear, anger, loss.
“I will cry tomorrow; I do not have time to cry today.”
The Battle of Gettysburg unfolds in the words of generals and civilians, soldiers and volunteers. What one hears from each person is dedication to their cause. Young readers will be able to see both sides of a war that has long ended: a war where people fight against their countrymen, a war that not only brought bloodshed, but impacted the nation like no other. What children will observe is a battle between people who speak the same language, share the same customs, and at one time have pledged allegiance to the same flag. They are not divided by cultural differences, religious belief, or by distance. But they are separated by ideas.
“Surely the human could cannot endure another day like this.”
Another lesson of Garland’s book is War’s aftermath. Going into the battle, soldiers on both sides are confident in their ability to defeat the enemy. They sound justified, bolstered by their belief that their cause is righteous. As the fighting commences, however, confidence melts into fear, followed by sorrow and futility.
“They dig long trenches and toss them in without ceremony or tear shed.”