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Double Duty in the Civil War: The Letters of Sailor and Soldier Edward W. Bacon   ebook

Double Duty in the Civil War: The Letters of Sailor and Soldier Edward W. Bacon Ebook

 By George S Burkhardt

 Language: English

 Publish Year : 1970

 

Download Double Duty in the Civil War: The Letters of Sailor and Soldier Edward W. Bacon

 

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E-Book review:
“This book—an adventure story told in the words of a young man who set out on a remarkable journey—sheds light on several important aspects of the Civil War that have not attracted as much attention as they deserve. Bacon’s diary and correspondence offer an important addition to the literature on life in the Civil War.”—James G. Hollandsworth, author of An Absolute Massacre: The New Orleans Race Riot of July 30, 1866



“While numerous eyewitness accounts by Union army and naval personnel have been published, Edward W. Bacon’s letters stand alone in providing insights into the life of a young man who served as both a captain’s clerk in the U.S. Navy and as an officer in two black regiments. George S. Burkhardt deftly employs eyewitness accounts by fellow combatants on both sides of the war to corroborate and enhance Edward Bacon’s keen observations of people and events. Double Duty in the Civil War belongs on the shelf of anyone interested in the military experience of Union soldiers and sailors who fought to preserve the nation.”—Hugh Davis, author of Leonard Bacon: New England Reformer and Antislavery Moderate  

"Sailors and African American soldiers constituted more than 10 percent of Union forces in the Civil War, yet they have historically been underrepresented in the published primary accounts that have appeared
since Appomattox. In Double Duty in the Civil War: The Letters of Sailor and Soldier Edward W. Bacon, editor George S. Burkhardt adds greatly to our understanding of the experiences of these two groups of Union veterans.


Bacon was an eighteen-year-old Yale student and son of an abolitionist Connecticut minister when he volunteered for service in the Union navy in 1861. He spent seventeen months as a captain's clerk on the U.S.S. Iroquois and the U.S.S. Hartford, during which time he participated in chasing the Confederate raider Sumter, ran the batteries at Vicksburg, and fought the C.S.S. Arkansas. In addition to recounting daily life onboard ship, Bacon describes the infrequent but terrifying experience of naval combat: "You see the flash of a gun and in a second hear the shriek of a shell—yet in the intervening period my mind goes thro this—this shell may hit me" (p. 49).


 



In September 1862 Bacon resigned from the navy (his letters provide no insight into his motivations) and enlisted as an army hospital clerk. In January 1864 he was commissioned a captain in the 29th Connecticut Infantry, an African American regiment. He served with the 29th and later the 11th Regiment of the United States Colored Troops through the war and into Reconstruction and experienced battle on land to complement his service at sea. He formed a nuanced opinion of the African American soldiers under his command, summarized by his writing, "I have no doubt that negro troops can be made equal to any. There is no doubt that now they are inferior" (p. 150).





The subtitle of the book is a bit misleading, for there is more here than simply Bacon's letters. Included also are diary entries and official reports written by Bacon, and letters to Bacon from his father. Burkhardt provides important and interesting commentary about the nature of Bacon's service as well as biographical information about Bacon not included in his writings. Burkhardt also provides the context for individual letters or diary entries as needed, although this should have been done in a different font to avoid confusion on the part of the reader. The book concludes with a welcomed epilogue discussing Bacon's post-war life. The inclusion of an index will be greatly appreciated by researchers. It is, of course, in Bacon's rare experi­ence, what Burkhardt accurately describes as his "double duty," where this book's greatest value lies." --PETER C. VERMILYEA, Western Connecticut State University

(Peter C. Vermilyea Military History of the West 20100501) George S. Burkhardt is an independent scholar and writer who lives in Long Beach, California. A former news reporter and writer, he was the editor, publisher, and owner of California’s smallest daily newspaper, the Corning Daily Observer. He is the author of Confederate Rage, Yankee Wrath: No Quarter in the Civil War.

 

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