A Confederate Chronicle: The Life of a Civil War Survivor

By Pamela Chase Hain | Go to book overview

Preface

A Confederate Chronicle documents the Civil War and its aftermath through the eyes of a man who served in both the Confederate Army and Navy and spent sixteen months as a prisoner of war. In Part I, Thomas L. Wragg, through letters written to his family in 1861 and early 1862, provides an eyewitness account of the 8th Georgia from Harpers Ferry and the battle at Bull Run (the First Manassas) to the uncertain months that followed, and of his stay at a Richmond hospital in March 1862. After he joined the Confederate Navy, Wragg kept a naval notebook and saved newspaper articles in a scrapbook. Together, these documents provide evidence of the training of officers assigned to the CSS Georgia with the Savannah Squadron and a description of the CSS Atlanta's capture. Wragg's letters from Fort Warren Prison give a glimpse into the psychological toll that imprisonment took on the officers incarcerated there.

Part II chronicles the struggle of a Civil War veteran for emotional and financial survival in the impoverished South. It is evident from his letters and from the essay "Laurel Grove" that, at a minimum, Wragg suffered from depression as early as 1862, and it is clearly indicated in Part II, Chapter 2, where he repeatedly voices a "death wish." His writing and actions suggest that he may have suffered from a form of "posttraumatic stress disorder."

In presenting this material, I have assumed that readers will have varying levels of expertise in Civil War history. Some will be Civil War scholars, while others will be interested in the war or in history but know little of the battles and generals involved. For the latter, I have provided brief biographical sketches of the generals mentioned in the notes.

-xiii-

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