Fight All Day, March All Night: A Medal of Honor Recipient's Story

SUNY Press
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In 1862 twenty-one-year-old Morris Brown Jr. left his studies at Hamilton College to take up the Union cause. He quickly rose in rank from sergeant major to captain and acting regimental commander for the 126th New York Volunteers. In letters written to his family in Penn Yan, New York, Brown describes his experiences at war: the unseemly carping between fellow officers, the fear that gripped men facing battle, and the longing to return home. Brown’s letters also reveal an ambitious young man who not only wanted recognition but also wanted to assure himself of a financial future. Above all, this is the story of a courageous young man, told mostly in his own words. Few Civil War soldiers were as articulate as Morris Brown Jr., fewer served in a regiment that saw so much combat, still fewer commanded a regiment at such a young age, and even fewer were recognized by the newly minted Medal of Honor.
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About the author

Wayne Mahood is Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus in the School of Education at Geneseo–SUNY. His many books include Alexander “Fighting Elleck” Hays: The Life of a Civil War General, From West Point to the Wilderness, General Wadsworth: The Life and Times of Brevet General James S. Wadsworth, and Written in Blood: A History of the 126th New York Infantry in the Civil War.

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Additional Information

Publisher
SUNY Press
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Published on
Nov 5, 2012
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Pages
250
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ISBN
9781438445083
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Best For
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / Military
History / Military / United States
History / United States / Civil War Period (1850-1877)
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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When George Kimball (1840–1916) joined the Twelfth Massachusetts in 1861, he’d been in the newspaper trade for five years. When he mustered out three years later, having been wounded  at Fredericksburg and again at Gettysburg (mortally, it was mistakenly assumed at the time), he returned to newspaper life. There he remained, working for the Boston Journal for the next four decades. A natural storyteller, Kimball wrote often about his military service, always with a newspaperman’s eye for detail and respect for the facts, relating only what he’d witnessed firsthand and recalled with remarkable clarity. Collected in A Corporal’s Story, Kimball’s writings form a unique narrative of one man’s experience in the Civil War, viewed through a perspective enhanced by time and reflection.

With the Twelfth Massachusetts, Kimball saw action at many of the most critical and ferocious battles in the eastern theater of the war, such as Second Bull Run, Antietam, Gettysburg, the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, and Petersburg—engagements he vividly renders from the infantry soldier’s point of view. Aware that his readers might not be familiar with what he and comrades had gone through, he also describes many aspects of army life, from the most mundane to the most dramatic. In his accounts of the desperate action and immediate horrors of war, Kimball clearly conveys to readers the cost of preserving the Union. Never vindictive toward Confederates, he embodies instead the late nineteenth-century’s spirit of reconciliation.

Editors Alan D. Gaff and Donald H. Gaff have added an introduction and explanatory notes, as well as maps and illustrations, to provide further context and clarity, making George Kimball’s memoir one of the most complete and interesting accounts of what it was to fight in the Civil War—and what that experience looked like through the lens of time.
Col. David Ireland’s regiment was extraordinary. His 137th New York State Volunteers fought crucial battles in both theaters of the Civil War. In the East, they were in the center of the line at Chancellorsville, alone on the right at Gettysburg. In the West, they held the left at Wauhatchie and led the charge at Lookout Mountain. In 1864 as part of Sherman’s army, they fought in all the battles leading to the taking of Atlanta, the March to the Sea, and the march through the Carolinas that finally ended the Civil War. Twice they held the unsupported flank of the line. Twice they fought for hours, after dark—a rarity in the Civil War. Arguably, they saved the Battle of Gettysburg by holding Culp’s Hill on the night of July 2, one regiment against six. Shifted to the Western Theater, they saved Geary’s Division from annihilation in the midnight Battle of Wauhatchie, holding the line though again greatly outnumbered. Stalwart in defense, they were bold in offense. The 137th NY was “the point of the sword” routing the Confederate defenders of Lookout Mountain in the “Battle Above the Clouds” at Chattanooga. With Sherman in Georgia, they contributed to the saving of the Union itself. They were the first troops into Atlanta, a victory that insured Lincoln’s reelection. They were first to take the surrender of Savannah, which Sherman gave to Lincoln as a Christmas gift. After Lee had surrendered to Grant at Appomattox, the 137th NY fought on for another two weeks in Carolina until Johnston’s Confederate army surrendered, ending the Civil War. Of the thousand Union regiments in the Civil War, few if any could claim such distinction in so many crucial battles in so many places. Yet history’s indifference has long denied Col. David Ireland and the 137th New York the recognition and praise that they deserve. David Ireland died days after taking Atlanta, so he never wrote a memoir telling the regiment’s story. Pieces of the story are told in the writings of more than thirty men of the 137th NY, their commanders and opponents, which provide a firsthand view of the regiment’s 15 battles and 2,000 miles of hard marching. Taken together, the pieces yield a comprehensive history of their regiment, on their “fields of fame and glory.” This is the story of ordinary men, who under the leadership of a remarkable commander, Col. David Ireland, became an extraordinary regiment—the 137th New York State Volunteers. The author hopes this will at last bring them fame – the regiment long ago earned the glory. The book includes forty maps and images of men of the 137th NY and a comprehensive index of men of the regiment and locations referred to in the text.
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The unapologetic, laugh-your-ass-off military memoir both vets and civilians have been waiting for, from a five-tour Army Ranger turned YouTube phenomenon and zealous advocate for veterans
 
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A clear-eyed account of learning how to lead in a chaotic world, by General Jim Mattis--the former Secretary of Defense and one of the most formidable strategic thinkers of our time--and Bing West, a former assistant secretary of defense and combat Marine.

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