At Custer's Side: The Civil War Writings of James Harvey Kidd

At Custer's Side: The Civil War Writings of James Harvey Kidd

At Custer's Side: The Civil War Writings of James Harvey Kidd

At Custer's Side: The Civil War Writings of James Harvey Kidd

Synopsis

"During the Civil War, James Harvey Kidd fought alongside General George Armstrong Custer as a member of the 6th Michigan Cavalry - the Wolverines. A student at the University of Michigan at the outbreak of the war, Kidd enlisted in 1862 and was elected captain, commanding a company of Wolverines. Within two years he was promoted to colonel and took command of the regiment. In the fall of 1863, he succeeded Custer as commander of the Michigan Cavalry Brigade and eventually received a brevet to brigadier general of volunteers. After the war, Kidd served as brigadier general in the Michigan National Guard and, upon returning to his civilian career as a newspaperman, published two newspapers in his hometown of Ionia, Michigan. He also wrote a memoir of his service, Personal Reminiscences of a Cavalryman in Custer's Michigan Brigade, a classic of Civil War literature. Eric J. Wittenberg presents many of this newspaperman's captivating writings in their original form in At Custer's Side: The Civil War Writings of James Harvey Kidd. Kidd wrote eloquently about his Civil War experiences, especially his service with Custer. His speech given at the dedication of the Custer monument in Monroe, Michigan, is particularly important, as it provides readers with one of the first revisionist views of the tragedy that befell Custer at Little Big Horn." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

When, in his famous 1884 Memorial Day Address, the future Supreme Court justice Oliver Wendell Holmes proclaimed, “In our youth our hearts were touched with fire, ” he spoke for a generation of young men who had passed through the pain and glory of the American Civil War. Some, like Holmes, were largely content to internalize the personal legacy of the conflict as they moved on to less sanguine fields of achievement. Others bore the scars and suffering of their ordeal for a lifetime or, encumbered with memories, found the later decades of their lives inevitably diminished by comparison with the recollected glories of their youth.

But there were many veterans of the Civil War who even while embracing the challenges and opportunities of civilian life—establishing profitable careers and immersing themselves in civic and familial responsibilities— sought to preserve the heritage of their wartime service through the power of the spoken and written word. James Harvey Kidd was one of those. His postwar occupations of manufacturer and journalist coexisted with a desire to record the exploits of the 6th Michigan Volunteer Cavalry of Custer's Brigade, in whose ranks Kidd had served with credit and honor, at age twenty-five winning promotion to the rank of brevet brigadier general.

Best known for his 1908 memoir Personal Recollections of a Cavalryman in Custer's Michigan Cavalry Brigade, General Kidd rarely passed up an opportunity to speak to veterans organizations on his favorite subject and was called upon to deliver dedicatory addresses at monuments commemorating Custer and the hard-charging “Wolverines.” He saw it as a just and sacred . . .

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