Voices of the Army of the Potomac

Personal Reminiscences of Union Veterans

Vincent L. Burns

An overview of what Civil War soldiers and veterans chose to record and share about their experiences in the years after the war.
Date Published :
November 2021
Publisher :
Illustration :
12 photographs and 1 map
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Hardback
ISBN : 9781636240725
Pages : 384
Dimensions : 9 X 6 inches
Stock Status : In stock
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An overview of what Civil War soldiers and veterans chose to record and share about their experiences in the years after the war.

Finalist, 2021 Army Historical Foundation Distinguished Writing Awards

As historian David W. Bright noted in Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory, "No other historical experience in America has given rise to such a massive collection of personal narrative 'literature' written by ordinary people." This "massive collection" of memoirs, recollections and regimental histories make up the history of the Civil War seen through the eyes of the participants. This work is an overview of what Civil War soldiers and veterans wrote about their experiences. It focusses on what veterans remembered, what they were prepared to record, and what they wrote down in the years after the end of the war. In an age of increased literacy many of these men had been educated, whether at West Point, Harvard or other establishments, but even those who had received only a few years of education chose to record their memories.

The writings of these veterans convey their views on the cataclysmic events they had witnessed but also their memories of everyday events during the war. While many of them undertook detailed research of battles and campaigns before writing their accounts, it is clear that a number were less concerned with whether their words aligned with the historical record than whether they recorded what they believed to be true. This book explores these themes and also the connection between veterans writing their personal war history and the issue of veterans’ pensions. Understanding what these veterans chose to record and why is important to achieving a deeper understanding of the experience of these men who were caught up in this central moment in American life.

About The Author

Vincent Burns has a Bachelor's and Master's degree in American History from the University of Memphis. His previously published titles include The Fifth New York Cavalry in the Civil War (McFarland, 2014) and a novel entitled Moonlight in Vermont. He is retired from IBM Corp. and also from the semiconductor equipment industry and now lives in Idaho.


Chapter 1 Remembrance as History
Chapter 2 From Reunion to Revolution
Chapter 3 An Incident on the Road to Spotsylvania Court House
Chapter 4 One Vast Field of Intense, Earnest Action
Chapter 5 If There is No Objection - None in the World
Chapter 6 Skirmishers Three Deep
Chapter 7 Maybe This Time
Chapter 8 Pursuit to the Potomac
Chapter 9 Return to the Rappahannock
Chapter 10 Again, the Wilderness
Chapter 11 Spotsylvania, Cold Harbor and Across the James
Chapter 12 Petersburg
Chapter 13 Closing Out the War
Source Notes


"[Burns] narrates the story in an interesting and concise way, but it is the quotations he uses that set this work apart."

- Emerging Civil War

"The soldiers’ voices reflect their worries, concerns, joys, anguish, and other emotions as the war progresses...Burns effectively uses the words of army commanders, key generals, field and line officers, and, best of all, the common enlisted men who did the bulk of the fighting."

- Scott Mingus, York Daily Record

"...this work’s principal value [is] not only in concentrating solely on the campaigns and battles fought by the Army of the Potomac, to include diverse subordinate elements, but also in pulling together a multitude of individual soldier accounts to help weave a coherent narrative."

- The Journal of America's Military Past

"Burns does an overall excellent job sharing the tale of the Army of the Potomac."

- ARGunners.com

"A welcome and expertly presented contribution to the growing library of American Civil War histories, biographies, and memoirs..."

- Midwest Book Review

“Burns’ writing is clear, detailed, and very balanced, and coverers countless people. Voices of the Army of the Potomac is a riveting read that brings a human element to the Army of the Potomac that will excite novices and veteran students alike. One of best accounts of the army that I have ever read, this is surely worth a place in any scholar’s Civil War library as well as that of the buff.”

- The NYMAS Review

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