The Civil War confronted all Americans with the weightiest moral and political issues since the American Revolution. In diaries and journals they argued and agonized with themselves; in sermons and speeches, in poems and love letters, they revealed to one another their own interior war. As they sought with words to hold their experiences steady for a moment, they sometimes achieved the eloquence that may evoke extraordinary times.
The 59 selections in this volume, written between 1860 and 1865, include such well-known writers as Frederick Douglass, Lincoln, Melville, and Whitman, as well as the lesser-known, whose experience of war is immediate, unfiltered by memory. It is a picture of America, a literature that crosses all social borders, an integrated portrait of the Civil War as a national experience.