Junius And Albert’s Adventures In The Confederacy

I must admit that what first captured my attention to Peter Carlson’s latest book is the nostalgic cover.  The second attention grabber is the name “Junius”.  I love antiquated proper nouns.  Junius is a name that goes back to the founding of the Roman Republic.

However, this book has nothing to do with ancient Rome, whatsoever.  Junius And Albert’s Adventures In The Confederacy is the latest of my reads.  Author, Peter Carlson, has crafted a work that is at once compelling and entertaining.SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

I must mention, right away, that this book is not one of those dry, tomes that catalogues war events.  It’s also not another one of those “Johnny Reb” boilerplates that appear from time to time.  Junius And Albert’s Adventures In The Confederacy brings out an aspect of the American Civil War that most of us have given little or no thought to.

The story evolves around the observations of two newspaper reporters.  Junius Browne and Albert Richardson were employed by abolitionist Horace Greeley to write for his “New York Tribune”.  Browne and Richardson became fast friends who were self-styled adventurer-journalists.  They called themselves and their cohorts, “The Bohemians”.

The adventures begin early in the book when the reporters cover the battle at the Rebel’s Fort Donelson.  The surrender of the fort was the first major victory in the war by the Union forces.  The pair’s stories were well received by the Tribune’s readers.

The reporters determined that Vicksburg, Mississippi would be the next major story to cover. On the way to the battlefield, the river barges and tugboat on which the two reporters were riding was attacked by Confederate cannon near Vicksburg. The boat and barges burned and sank.  The escaping reporters were taken prisoner by the Confederate army.

The first prison for the reporters was the Vicksburg jail. The filthy conditions were their introduction to the Confederate prison system that included Atlanta and two Richmond, Virginia institutions. Their last destination was the infamous facility at Salisbury, North Carolina.

Even though Junius and Albert had been issued parole documents to make them eligible for prisoner exchanges. The two reporters were frustrated at every prison.  Their employer, the “New York Tribune” was the most hated newspaper in the South. So keeping the paper’s reporters captive was seen as sweet revenge for the rebels.

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The war dragged on so the Confederacy’s food, supplies and materiel became cut off by the Union forces. Conditions became poor for southern citizens, the military, and especially prisoners.  Eventually, around 9,000 Union POWs were incarcerated at Salisbury.  The institution was not designed for such a large population.  Most of the captives lived in holes dug into the ground and covered with canvas or other makeshift materials.  Hunger and severe sickness claimed hundreds of lives.  The dead were buried in large mass graves on and near the prison.

Junius worked as a defacto assistant medic amidst the misery and dying prisoners.  This activity helped him to retain some measure of sanity throughout the inhumanity of the oppression of the Confederate officials.  When conditions worsened to the point that Junius and Albert thought they, too, might die of starvation, illness, or trigger happy guards, they planned their escape.

It is on the strength of Browne’s and Richardson’s personal and public writings that author Peter Carlson structures the narratives with historical research to create this important and gripping story. Junius And Albert’s Adventures In The Confederacy adds a significant dimension to our perceptions about the Civil War era.

{ Junius And Albert’s Adventures In The Confederacy: A Civil War Odyssey by Peter Carlson; published by Public Affairs; ISBN: 978-1-61039-155-9 }

Ciao
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The Blue Jay of Happiness gives an “A” to this book.  It is certainly a must-read for anybody who follows history and for those of us who enjoy non-fiction adventure.

 

About swabby429

An eclectic guy who likes to observe the world around him and comment about those observations.
This entry was posted in Books, History, Politics and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Junius And Albert’s Adventures In The Confederacy

  1. Old Jules says:

    Reblogged this on So Far From Heaven and commented:
    J

  2. Sounds like a wonderful read.

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