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The Life of Johnny Reb: The Common Soldier of the Confederacy
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The Life of Johnny Reb: The Common Soldier of the Confederacy

4.05  ·  Rating Details ·  894 Ratings  ·  19 Reviews
In this companion to The Life of Johnny Reb, Bell Irvin Wiley explores the daily lives of the men in blue who fought to save the Union. With the help of many soldiers' letters and diaries, Wiley explains who these men were and why they fought, how they reacted to combat and the strain of prolonged conflict, and what they thought about the land and the people of Dixie. This ...more
Paperback, 444 pages
Published January 1st 2008 by Louisiana State University Press (first published 1943)
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Caroline
Written in the 1940s by one of the legends of Civil War history, this book holds up remarkably well considering the developments and discoveries in the field in the intervening 70 years. It is effectively one of a pair, with The Life of Billy Yank, which I have yet to read.

You won't find the great names of Civil War history here. Lee, Jackson, Beauregard, Longstreet, barely get a look in here. Even the officer class is scarcely given a mention - this book is very about the grunts, the footsoldie
...more
Greg
Jan 26, 2013 Greg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: civil-war-nf
Hard not to appreciate the level of research Wiley utilized, of firsthand accounts and letters over publications. The best book, beyond fictionalized accounts, for understanding the day to day life of the infantry soldier in the camps, and of their backgrounds. Wiley's love for his subjects, even in all their faults and diversity, comes through very clearly. Interested to see what differences, if any, are in his account of Billy Yank.
Kevin Tallon
My great-great grandfather fought in the army of northern Virginia all four years of the civil war. I read this in order to gain a greater understanding of what life would have been like for him and this book did not disappoint.
Ron
Jan 22, 2017 Ron rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book. I currently listen to the "The Civil War Podcast: 1861-1865" and this text gave some good insight on the men who fought the war. It was an interesting read but is a very dense volume with tremendous detail and breadth. Highly recommended for those with interest in the Civil War. I plan to pick up the companion volume "The Life of Billy Yank" in the near future.
Ash
Oct 23, 2014 Ash rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bell Irvin Wiley was a historian but mostly he had a vested interest in the military history of this nation. He served as a historical officer during WWII. He uses the images Johnny Reb representation created by flag-wavers to contrast to the Billy Yank image created by the northern coalition during the Civil War.
Wiley dives deep into a personal historic account of the Civil War, drawing from the personal effects of the soldiers who survived and some who did not survive. His focus through his w
...more
Nick Young
1) The authors purpose for writing this book is to inform the reader about the horrors of the Civil War. The author indirectly states the purpose because the author wants the reader to think of what war was like.
2) The theme of this book is to believe in what you believe in and don't let anyone tell you what you can't. The author indirectly states the theme because he wants the reader to think of the theme.
3) This book is written in first person. Yes it is effective because the author tells his
...more
Lady Sidhe
Mar 20, 2016 Lady Sidhe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a must for anyone interested in the day-to-day life of a soldier in the Civil War. While parts of it tend to be a little dry for my taste, other parts are downright fascinating.

The book covers everything from the initial/later reactions of men to the war and becoming soldiers, to morality, to entertainment, to medical practices of the day, to family, to first-person battle accounts, to soldiers' opinions of their leaders, to military law practice, to the everyday interactions betwe
...more
David R.
Mar 15, 2015 David R. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
They don't write them like this any more. This 1940s classic considers the day to day lives of common soldiers of the Confederate States Army. We experience Johnny Reb's food, shelter, terrors, travails, entertainments and more. There is plenty of source text and a lot of it is heartrending. In all, a wonderful study.
Sean Chick
Apr 09, 2012 Sean Chick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Willey is still the go to man for the life of the common soldier and you can see why. This essentially a collection of facts, anecdotes, and quotations, yet from this a portrait emerges, one that is commendable, but not without blemishes. Perhaps not the greatest read, but certainly among the best researched.
Omar
Sep 09, 2011 Omar rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
great source for discovering the southern soldier in the civil war. What they went through, thought, felt, acted, why they fought, how, and everything else dealing with the war effort and their societal and family surroundings
Clay Davis
Nov 05, 2012 Clay Davis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed reading about the lives of a Civil War soldier. Good detail on how they dealt with life in the army. A must read for anybody interested in the Civil War
Fredrick Danysh
Examines what the life of a common Confederate soldier would have been like. Much has been written aabout the generals but little of the men ib the ranks.
Sheila Myers
Jan 14, 2016 Sheila Myers rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: civil-war
I most enjoy books about the common soldier and this is probably one of the best written about the common soldier in the Confederate Army.
Jenny Lynn
Dec 28, 2012 Jenny Lynn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Only for the true American Civil War nerd. Unless you really want to know what is was like...watch a John Jakes film remake.
Doug
May 06, 2008 Doug rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The camp life of Confederate soldiers during the American Civil War, including many anecdotes of how they interacted, what they did and eat, how they thought and felt, etc.
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Born into rural Tennessee and schooled at Asbury College (BA, 1928) and Yale University (PhD, 1933), Bell Irvin Wiley became a historical officer of the Second Army in World War II and taught history the University of Mississippi, Louisiana State University, Oxford University, and Emory University. He published groundbreaking works, such as Southern Negroes, 1861-65 (1938), was named President of ...more
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“But this attitude could not persist. Under the supervision of “oldtimers” like Joseph Johnston, Robert E. Lee, Braxton Bragg, and Thomas Jackson, complaisant officers were gradually weeded out and West Point ideas of discipline were adopted in the Southern armies. Before the campaigns of 1862 Johnny Reb was for the most part a changed man. He had shed most of his surplus equipment, and, of much greater importance, he had abandoned the idea that military life was “all fun and frolic.” In short, the volunteer had become a soldier.” 1 likes
“But these volunteers, like most of the others, were to discover that much preparation must come between the “joining up” and the shooting. Drilling three or four times a day was serious and unromantic business, the more so when these exercises were done under the scorching rays of the summer sun. Chopping down trees lost little of its odium by being dignified with the name of “policing.”30 Marching to new locations, preparing food, washing clothes, fighting lice and cleaning camp were duties that bore little resemblance to Johnny Reb’s conception of soldiering.” 0 likes
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