Under the Southern Cross: Soldier Life with Gordon Bradwell and the Army of Northern Virginia

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Under the Southern Cross: Soldier Life with Gordon Bradwell and the Army of Northern Virginia. Compiled and edited by Pharris Deloach Johnson. (Macon, Ga.: Mercer University Press, c. 1999. Pp. [xliv], 271. $32.95, ISBN 0-86554-667-3.)

Hundreds of articles published in the Confederate Veteran were notable more as the ramblings or exaggerations of aging veterans than as reliable accounts of battles, campaigns, marches, or even of mundane aspects of life in the Confederate army. Under the Southern Cross, a compilation of reminiscences originally published as seventy-three separate articles between 1907 and 1932, is a modest exception to the rule. It is a straightforward record of one Georgian's wartime experiences that also introduces readers to several memorable officers and men under whom and with whom he served. When Douglas Southall Freeman wrote that, although the Veteran certainly contained "some exceedingly tall tales by old men whose memory had failed them," it also often included "an eye-witness" clear account of some incident that never had been explained" (The South to Posterity: An Introduction to the Writing of Confederate History [New York, Scribner's, 1939], p. 198), he might very well have been thinking of these unassuming articles as an example of the latter type.

Isaac Gordon Bradwell was an eighteen-year-old student in south Georgia when he enlisted in the Confederate Army in the fall of 1861. He joined a local company that became part of the 31st Georgia Infantry the next spring. The brigade to which the 31st Georgia belonged, commanded successively by generals Alexander R. Lawton, John B. Gordon, and Clement A. Evans, participated in all the major campaigns of the Army of Northern Virginia. Bradwell served the entire war with the 31st Georgia, except for two periods of extended illness in 1862 and 1864, and he surrendered with his regiment at Appomattox. Bradwell moved to Alabama in 1878. He spent the rest of his life there, teaching school for many years, and was a longtime member of the United Confederate Veterans. …