Jan's Reviews > Quite Ready To Be Sent Somewhere: The Civil War Letters Of Aldace Freeman Walker

Quite Ready To Be Sent Somewhere by Thomas LeDoux
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's review

it was amazing
bookshelves: history, reference, favorites, non-fiction

This paperback is chock full of letters from a young Vermont man who joined up for all the right reasons. Aldace Walker was studying to become a lawyer when he gave it all up to join the First Artillery, Eleventh Vermont Volunteers, a heavy artillery unit. In fact, he attended his 1862 graduation from Middlebury College in uniform, as he was leaving that day for camp.

His many letters home, a few return letters, and some letters to the editor of Vermont newspapers are included in the book. Walker was a pious young officer, but his letters are not full of religious zeal. Rather, he writes about his duties, the life of the soldiers in camp—food, shelter, uniforms, drills—and the marching and battles later in the war. His opinions are strong and not unusual for an educated Vermont man of his time. I found the humor very encouraging and entertaining, as he doesn't take every little thing seriously.

Because many of the letters are to his father, there are a lot of references to mutual acquaintances and family members, most of which are explained by Ledoux in endnotes. Many of the details about the unit and the soldiers can be found on the "Vermont in the Civil War" website, which is an amazing compilation of every soldier and unit from that state in the war.

Some favorite parts of the book are when Walker is expostulating on the frustration of waiting, hence the book's title. Every soldier (and sailor and marine and airman) can relate to the "hurry up and wait" of the military. I enjoyed reading about his time near Washington, D.C., the few entertainments he took advantage of, and of his sightings of President Lincoln and other important folks. I learned a lot about the defense of Washington, and later, of the battles in Virginia as part of the Army of the Potomac.

Make sure to read the Introduction to get "the big picture" before starting the letters. In addition to the notes from each chapter, the book contains an extensive index and a bibliography. There are occasional photographs scattered throughout, and a few pages of portrait photos in the middle. It's a large paperback, 7 by 10 inches, and includes 400 pages. The type, unfortunately, is quite small. An annotated, online version of the book is planned.

Strongly recommended for Civil War buffs and for those who want to hear "first-hand" how a young man fared during the war.

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Reading Progress

December 22, 2018 – Started Reading
December 22, 2018 – Shelved
December 25, 2018 –
December 31, 2018 –
January 3, 2019 –
January 7, 2019 –
January 9, 2019 –
January 11, 2019 –
February 16, 2019 – Finished Reading

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