The Road to Richmond: The Civil War Memoirs of Major Abner R. Small of the Sixteenth Maine Volunteers, Together with the Diary That He Kept When He Was a Prisoner of War

The Road to Richmond: The Civil War Memoirs of Major Abner R. Small of the Sixteenth Maine Volunteers, Together with the Diary That He Kept When He Was a Prisoner of War

The Road to Richmond: The Civil War Memoirs of Major Abner R. Small of the Sixteenth Maine Volunteers, Together with the Diary That He Kept When He Was a Prisoner of War

The Road to Richmond: The Civil War Memoirs of Major Abner R. Small of the Sixteenth Maine Volunteers, Together with the Diary That He Kept When He Was a Prisoner of War

Synopsis

Abner Small wrote one of the most honest, poignant, and moving memoirs to come out of the Civil War. He served as a non-commissioned officer in the Third Maine Infantry during the summer of 1861, experiencing battle for the first time at First Bull Run. As a recruiting officer, he helped to raise the Sixteenth Maine Infantry and served as its adjutant. The Sixteenth Maine gained fame for its heroic delaying action on July 1 at Gettysburg, where it lost 180 of its 200 men. It went on to serve in Grant's Overland Campaign in Virginia. Small was an articulate observer of all this. He wrote his memoirs with a keen sense of the irony of life during wartime, and with a gift for expression. His descriptions of the dead at Gettysburg, his characterizations of famous men such as Major General Oliver Otis Howard, and his reflections on the emotions of men under fire are outstanding. Small was captured in the battle of Globe Tavern on August 18, 1864. His account of prison life at Libby, Salisbury, and Danville is gripping. Small was exchanged just in time to lead his regiment in the final days of the war. His book reveals more of the inner soldier than almost any other account written by a Union veteran.

Excerpt

Abner R. Small's memoir has always been one of my favorite accounts by a Civil War soldier. Born on May 1, 1836, at Gardiner, Maine, he grew up at Mount Vernon, near Augusta, with vivid memories of militia musters that helped impel him to join the Third Maine Infantry at the start of the war. Small was a noncommissioned officer in this regiment, which was led by Oliver Otis Howard, who later rose to command the Eleventh Corps and the Army of the Tennessee. Small was under fire for the first time at First Bull Run, but he did not stay in the Third, which was one of the early regiments that enlisted for three years. a desk assignment as clerk and recruiting officer took him behind the lines from December 1861 to May 1862. Small tried to raise a company for the Sixteenth Maine Infantry but failed to find enough enlistees willing to serve under him. Then he was appointed lieutenant and adjutant of the newly raised regiment.

The Sixteenth Maine saw little action for a long time after its organization. It garrisoned the fortifications of Washington, D.C., for a time and then was transferred to the First Corps of the Army of the Potomac during the Antietam Campaign, but it did not take part in that terrible battle. the regiment participated in its first combat at Fredericksburg on December 13, 1862, when it supported an attack by George G. Meade’s division and held a section of the Confederate position on Robert E. Lee’s right wing. the penetration was limited and temporary; soon the Maine unit had to retreat. Small was temporarily detached to the brigade staff during the fighting and went back to his regiment after it ended. Five months later, his comrades moved onto theChancellorsville battlefield on the evening of May 2, but they did not take part in the fierce fighting that decided the battle the next day.

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