Tom Taylor's Civil War

Albert Castel

Our hurly-burly sagas of war often overlook the deep connections between warriors and the families they left behind. In Tom Taylor's Civil War, eminent Civil War historian Albert Castel brings that familial connection back into sharp focus, reminding us again that soldiers in the field are much more than mere cogs in the machinery of war.

A young Ohio lawyer, Thomas Taylor was a junior officer who fought under Sherman at Vicksburg and Chattanooga and on the march through Georgia, and his diary and letters contain vivid descriptions of numerous skirmishes and battles over four years. By interweaving Taylor's words with his own narrative, Albert Castel has fashioned a work on the Civil War as engrossing as a novel; by also including letters from Taylor's wife, he has created a whole new dimension for viewing that conflict.

“An absorbing and emotionally wrenching glimpse at the toll taken on an intelligent, sensitive many by the strains of combat and separation from his family.


“By breathing life into one story, Castel honors the many and provides an important yet seldom seen glimpse of the real war.

—North & South
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Often written under adverse conditions, Taylor's descriptions of military encounters are filled with vivid details and perceptive observations. His passages especially provide new insight into the Georgia campaign—including accounts of the Battles of Atlanta and Ezra Church—and into the role of middle-echelon officers in both camp and combat. Castel's bridging narrative is equally dramatic, providing an overview of the fighting that gives readers invaluable context for Taylor's eyewitness reports.

The book chronicles not only Taylor's military career but also the strains it placed on his marriage. Taylor had gone off to war both to fight for his Unionist beliefs and to enhance his reputation in his community, while his wife, Netta, was a peace Democrat whose letters constantly urged Tom to return home. Their epistolary conversation-rare among Civil War sources-reflects a relationship that was as politically charged as it was passionate. Taylor's passages also reveal his changing attitudes: from favoring strong measures against the rebels at the beginning of the war to eventually deploring the destruction he witnessed in Georgia.

Tom Taylor's Civil War is a moving account of one man whose life was ripped apart by war and of the woman back home who remained his anchor through it all. Combining the best features of biography and autobiography, it paints a compelling picture of that conflict that will stir the heart as much as the imagination.

About the Author

Albert Castel is widely recognized as one of our most respected historians of the Civil War. His Decision in the West: The Atlanta Campaign of 1864 won the prestigious Lincoln Prize and was named one of the 400 Most Notable Books of the Year by the New York Times Book Review and one of the 100 Best Books on the Civil War by Civil War Magazine. He is also the author of Civil War Kansas: Reaping the Whirlwind, General Sterling Price and the Civil War in the West, and The Presidency of Andrew Johnson.

Additional Titles in the Modern War Studies Series