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"Soldiering", subtitled "The Civil War Diary of Rice C. Bull" is, as its title says, a war memoir written by a soldier of the United States of America during The Civil War. The author was a volunteer from Salem, New York who served with the 123rd Volunteer infantry from 1862 to 1865 through several major campaigns. Bull is a good writer, detailing the happenings of the war with a minimum of bluster.

In one way, this is a great record of the war, and in another way, it is a terrible record. After a description of his early training, the book then moves on to the Chancellorville Campaign, where he is wounded and taken as a prisoner of war in a disastrous campaign that he barely witnesses. After he is returned to the United States, it is much later in the war, and his regiment is sent to Tennessee to fight in the campaign that would eventually be The March to the Sea. At this point, there is little resistance, and the book is mostly just an account of him and his regiment marching on the road. This book contains no diagrams or explanations of battles, just the experiences of Bull, which shift from the grinding battle of Chancellorville to the campaign through Georgia, with most of his focus being on the quality of the food and the miseries of the weather. It's not a great military book from the standpoint of understanding the big picture, but it perfectly describes a soldier's experience.


Brevity Quest 2021

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