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Last to Leave the Field: The Life and Letters of First Sergeant Ambrose Henry Hayward, 28th Pennsylvania Volunteers (Voices Of The Civil War) Hardcover – February 28, 2011

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Book Description

Revealing the mind-set of a soldier seared by the horrors of combat even as he kept faith in his cause, Last to Leave the Field showcases the private letters of Ambrose Henry Hayward, a Massachusetts native who served in the 28th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry.

Hayward’s service, which began with his enlistment in the summer of 1861 and ended three years later following his mortal wounding at the Battle of Pine Knob in Georgia, took him through a variety of campaigns in both the Eastern and Western theaters of the war. He saw action in five states, participating in the battles of Antietam, Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg as well as in the Chattanooga and Atlanta campaigns. Through his letters to his parents and siblings, we observe the early idealism of the young recruit, and then, as one friend after another died beside him, we witness how the war gradually hardened him. Yet, despite the increasing brutality of what would become America’s costliest conflict, Hayward continually reaffirmed his faith in the Union cause, reenlisting for service late in 1863.

Hayward’s correspondence takes us through many of the war’s most significant developments,
including the collapse of slavery and the enforcement of Union policy toward Southern civilians. Also revealed are Hayward’s feelings about Confederates, his assessments of Union political and military leadership, and his attitudes toward desertion, conscription, forced marches, drilling, fighting, bravery, cowardice, and comradeship.

Ultimately, Hayward’s letters reveal the emotions—occasionally guarded but more often expressed with striking candor—of a soldier who at every battle resolved to be, as one comrade described him, “the first to spring forward and the last to leave the field.”

Timothy J. Orr is an assistant professor of military history at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia.

About the Author

Timothy J. Orr is an assistant professor of military history at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia.


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Product Details

  • Series: Voices Of The Civil War
  • Hardcover: 344 pages
  • Publisher: Univ Tennessee Press; 1 edition (February 28, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 157233729X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1572337299
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,326,127 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Wesley on May 7, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I purchased this book for two reasons: I enjoy the history of the U. S. Civil War, but moreso because my great great grandfather was a member of the 28th Pa. Vols, and I wanted to get an idea of the conditions, the battles, and the overall experiences that he would have known alongside of Sgt. Hayward. Although my ancestor was in a different company (he was in Co. F, Hayward was in D), the overall wartime experience would have been the same. I was delighted at even the mere mention of Company F.
As far as the book itself is concerned, the letters, footnotes, and a prelude to each section provided by the author are laid out in such a fashion that it becomes easy to follow the story. I also appreciate that the author kept the integrity of the Hayward collection of letters, down to the misspellings, faulty use of punctuation, and only inserting a qualifying word surrounded by brackets to keep the flow of words moving. In the footnotes section, separated at the back of the book as opposed to the bottom of each page, the author indicates a short biography of the names listed in Hayward's letters, and if it is unclear to what Hayward was alluding to, it is indicated as such.
As far as my overall impression, I am not much of a book-reader, but I was hard-pressed to put this book down upon setting forth to read it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By S. Gilmont on November 14, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was already a Civil War buff when I discovered that my great-great grandfather had served in the 28th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. It was disappointing to learn that three was no regimental history for the regiment. This book is the next best thing. This collection of Civil War letters is rich in the kind of detail and context that any student of history is after. Henry Hayward wrote long letters home full of the grit of camp life and the terror and chaos of battle --Antietam, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, the Atlanta campaign. I borrowed the book from a library first, and liked it so much that I knew I had to have it. This one is a keeper.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Balthack on June 22, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book gave me the best account of how men in Philadelphia got involved in fighting for Union Army during the Civil War. Also all the battles of the Pa 28th Infantry of which my ancestor was a member.
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