Recollections of War Times: By an Old Veteran While Under Stonewall Jackson and Lieutenant General James Longstreet
by William A. McClendon, University of Alabama Press
Some hidden surprises still remain in the vast expanse of original Civil War source material—such as William A. “Gus” McClendon’s memoir, a recently rediscovered gem. Previously published for the benefit of only family and friends, the full text is now available to general readers for the first time as part of the University of Alabama Press’ “Seeing the Elephant” series.
Although McClendon penned his account many years after the war— with some obvious sentimental bias— there is a level of energy and realism in his book that is clearly authentic. Readers can see, perhaps for the first time, how Confederates set up markers on the battlefield at First Manassas, creating what was no doubt the earliest crude effort at battlefield preservation. They can experience Second Manassas behind the Unfinished Railroad Cut, as “Stonewall” Jackson rode Old Sorrel along the peak, waving his hat. We also get painful reminders of how the war emptied scores of small Southern towns of their bountiful youth, and of the angst so many families and friends experienced upon learning their loved ones had died in combat or at some distant camp.
With each battle, Gus watched as familiar faces went down as casualties. But like a few fortunate others, McClendon survived all the fighting to tell his story—and eventually seized an opportunity to share his experiences for posterity.
Originally published in the February 2011 issue of Civil War Times. To subscribe, click here.