Soldiering with Sherman: The Civil War Letters of George F.Cram

Rare among Civil War correspondence, the collection of Union Sergeant George F. Cram's letters reveals an educated young man's experiences as part of Sherman's army. Advancing through the Confederacy with the 105th Illinois Infantry Regiment, Cram engaged in a number of key conflicts, such as Resaca, Peachtree Creek, Kennesaw, and Sherman's march to the sea. A highly literate college student who carried a copy of Shakespeare in his knapsack, Cram wrote candid letters that convey insights into the social dimensions of America's Civil War. With a piercing objectivity, optimism, and a dry sense of humor, Cram conscientiously reported the details of camp life. His vivid depictions of the campaigns throughout Alabama, Georgia, and the Carolinas contribute new insights into the battle scenes and key Union leaders. Cram and several of his compatriots adhered to a principled code of personal conduct (no smoking, swearing, drinking, or gambling), striving to maintain integrity and honor in the face of war's hardships and temptations. Influenced by the abolitionist values of his community and college, Cram's observations on the effects of slavery and on the poverty of many of the Southerners are especially illuminating. Civil War scholars and general readers alike will learn much from Cram's discoveries and observations from his sympathy for poor whites to his grudging respect for the Confederates that reveal the character of a young man maturing at war.