Academic journal article Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society

The Memoirs of Brigadier General William Passmore Carlin, U. S. A

Academic journal article Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society

The Memoirs of Brigadier General William Passmore Carlin, U. S. A

Article excerpt

Robert I. Girardi and Nathaniel Cheairs Hughes, Jr. The Memoirs of Brigadier General William Passmore Carlin, U. S. A. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1999.

The shadow of the ridges had been cast by the setting sun across the LaFayette Road. The enemy withdrew out of sight and gave up the contest for the night. My poor horse waited for me to dismount; then he lay quietly down in the dusty LaFayette Road and died without a struggle. Removing the saddle with the help of one of my men, I seated myself upon it, and then gave way to a long, hysterical crying spell, which I could no more have checked than I could have checked the setting sun. I felt ashamed of what may have seemed to others a childish weakness, but could not stop till I had it out.

Wth these words Brigadier General William P. Carlin described his state of mind at the close of the first day's combat at Chickamauga. Carlin's candor here and throughout his memoirs is rare and refreshing for one of his rank. In their memoirs, most general officers portrayed themselves as stoic figures untouched by the horror of war that surrounded them. But Carlin emerges as a man of deep feeling, modest about his accomplishments and generally honest about his errors. His memoirs originally appeared in serialized form in the National Tribune.

William P. Carlin was a native of Carrollton, Illinois, and a graduate of the West Point Class of 1850. He began the Civil War as colonel of the 38th Illinois Infantry, and as a brigade commander fought credibly at Perryville, Stones River, Chickamauga, and in the Battles for Chattanooga. Carlin commanded a division during the Atlanta Campaign and on the March to the Sea. …

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