The Home Voices Speak Louder Than the Drums

Dreams and the Imagination in Civil War Letters and Memoirs


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About the Book

“Soldier mortals would not survive if they were not blessed with the gift of imagination and the pictures of hope,” wrote Confederate Private Henry Graves in the trenches outside Petersburg, Virginia. “The second angel of mercy is the night dream.” Providing fresh perspective on the human side of the Civil War, this book explores the dreams and imaginings of those who fought it, as recorded in their letters, journals and memoirs. Sometimes published as poems or songs or printed in newspapers, these rarely acknowledged writings reflect the personalities and experiences of their authors. Some expressions of fear, pain, loss, homesickness and disappointment are related with grim fatalism, some with glimpses of humor.

About the Author(s)

Historian Wanda Easter Burch is a retired site manager of an 18th century house museum. Her articles on 18th century history have appeared in various journals, her articles on dreams and imagery in various women’s and self-help magazines. She lives in Glen, New York.

Bibliographic Details

Wanda Easter Burch
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 288
Bibliographic Info: 22 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2017
pISBN: 978-1-4766-6558-0
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2525-6
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii

Preface 1

Introduction 3

 1. Playing for Keeps: Gods, Generals and Staff on the Battlefield 7

 2. Artists and Music, Artists and Illustrators: Embedded Dreamers 31

 3. Homesickness—“like fire in my bones” 41

 4. Tenting Tonight: Dreaming of Home on the Old Campground 49

 5. Dreaming of Children 79

 6. “Just So” Dreams 84

 7. Dreaming of Home—with a Smile 96

 8. Precognitive Dreaming 100

 9. “Sacred Soil is adhesive” 118

10. Families Dreaming at Home 125

11. Dreaming in Prison: Seven Occupants to Make a Shadow 140

12. Caring for the Wounded 161

13. Caring for Souls on the Battlefield 177

14. Dying Tonight on the Old Campground 185

15. Presentiment: I Have a Rendezvous with Death—or Life 198

16. Soldier’s Heart 212

17. Slavery 218

18. Many Are the Hearts That Are Weary Tonight: Wishing for the War to Cease 232

Chapter Notes 235

Bibliography 263

Index 273