I am a fan of history. Oh, not the sanitized pasteurized, homogenized version taught in our school system. History is about society, it is about the life and times of the people concerned. The American Civil War was a period of huge upheaval in our recent history, it pitted brother against brother, it put a huge strain on North versus South.

I have no clue how many books on the subject have been written. Most though, are those dry and boring third party descriptions of battlefields that the author has never seen.

The Tented Field
is a unique book, it offers no lofty treatise that other PhD’s can hold lofty discussions about. It is a book solely of letters between family members during the conflict.

It was Susan Burleson’s grandfather who took this treasure trove of letters and painstakingly typed them out on a manual typewriter back in the early 1960’s. The majority of the letters are from 2 brothers, young men in the confederate army to their parents. But there are also some from their sisters and other familly.

What I found truly unique are the descriptions of everyday life. For example the cost of a chicken, or how much breakfast cost in the local eateries.

The other thing that I walked away with after reading The Tented Field was the letter writers view on death. Both on and off the battlefield death is discussed in an almost matter of fact manner. That is not to say that little value was given to life, rather death was seen as an inevitability.

Intrigued by The Tented Field I asked Susan Burleson to participate in our Week In Reviews radio show. It was an interesting interview and you can listen to it  in its entirety here.

The Tented Field is available through Amazon.

Simon Barrett

Be Sociable, Share!