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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
72
All for the Union: The Civil War Diary & Letters of Elisha Hunt Rhodes
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on May 9, 2014
I was a good friend of Jimmy Rhodes, a direct descendant of this Civil War hero from Rhode Island, in grade school. I am proud to note the author hailed from my native state of "Little Rhody." This particular primary source from the Civil War was utilized by Ken Burns' in his Civil War series with great success. Rhodes was a participant in many if the major battles ranging from Bull Run all the way through Appomattox. And like many others he quickly rose from the rank of lowly private to a Colonel by the time the War was over, and he was a proud member of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) veterans organization for many years following the war's conclusion. His writing voice is clear and descriptive. He is an unabashed patriot for the Union cause, as the title of this work suggests. He is unquestionably brave, and writes movingly about the horrors of combat, bringing the conflict to life in a brutal, vivid way. Rhodes, to repeat, is a hero, just as much as the glory-seeking Joshua Chamberlain from the 20th Maine, who after his exploits on Little Round Top at Gettysburg spent the remainder of his life touting his singular leadership and bravery (this is not to knock or question Chamberlain's bravery, he was wounded four or five times during the war, it's just that Chamberlain spent so much time bragging about himself once the war ended). Rhodes, on the other hand, is not nearly as obnoxious. The focus of Rhodes' writing is not on himself, but on the conflict around him, the men, the misery, the futility of war. And love of country reasonates throughout the read. Highly recommended read.
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on September 12, 2003
This is the best war diary I have read, and for many reasons. Elisha Rhodes has an excellent, straightforward writing style with very good grammatical structure. This makes the diary easy to follow. He was involved in virtually the entire war fought by the Army of the Potomac, and so it is pretty much a complete history in that sense.
At the same time, this private who ultimately became a colonel (in his early 20s!) remains about as unaffected as a man could be. Nothing good or bad really changes his simple and honest view of the war's ultimate justice, and many times he refers to the sacrifices as being easily justified by the gain of saving the union and of freeing the slaves.
He is religious but not judgmental, and never does he develop any real hatred of the enemy. He does his duty with a minimum of fuss. He enjoys his army life, but is quite happy to return to civilian life at the end.
Maybe most interesting to me was his innocent myopia. He never really knew the "big picture" of how the overall war was being fought, or even what the importance of many of the battles he was involved in might have been. He was content to leave that to the generals, and especially to Grant, in whom he had a great deal of trust.
This is a great weekend read for any civil war buff.
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"All for the Union" is an outstanding story of a young soldier at work. Elisha Hunt Rhodes enlisted in the Army of the Potomac and fought in almost every major eastern Civil War engagement. This book is a compilation of his private diary and papers written at the time of these events. The book is one of the most insightful and honest glimpses into the life, hardships, motivations, and opinions of a young soldier that the reader is ever likely to find. Rhodes writes with clarity and candor; if you want to know what it was like to be a Union Civil War soldier, there is perhaps no better book.
The PBS Documentary "The Civil War" drew heavily on Rhodes' book. By the way, one of the things I really liked about the book is that it included some contemporary photographs of people that served with Rhodes in his regiment. Being able to match faces with his narrative was delightful.
What amazing times Rhodes lived through! As soon as he enlisted, he was sent to the Capitol to help guard it. On the way his regiment was booed and reviled by pro-Rebel citizens in parts of Maryland. Rhodes lived through battlefield defeats and victories--the reader can fully appreciate the signficance to a young soldier like Rhodes when the great Union victory at Gettysburg takes place. After all, there had been many Union defeats preceding it.
Rhodes comes through as a good and honest man, very intelligent, but in the beginning somewhat naive as twenty year olds are apt to be. This is an outstanding glimpse into the mind of one of the soldiers who helped to save and preserve the Union. After reading it, one can see that America was fortunate to possess thousands of Elisha Hunt Rhodes because that is what it took to win the war. As the South had many equally good men, equally motivated, the reader can understand why it was a hard and long war.
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on January 13, 2018
If you want to get a feel for what it was like for a union soldier, this is the book for you. There were lots of personal details that I hadn't thought about. Absolutely worth the read!
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on October 26, 2015
I am an American history buff and this one gets you into the day to day life of a union soldier. I would also suggest the book Company Aytch. which is the confederate side of the day to day life. Diaries are usually very good as they tell it like it really was. I find myself getting into these and very difficult to put them down.
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on August 31, 2017
This was well written and detailed. I am still amazed how someone could start out a buck-private and be a Colonel three years later. Good story.
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on January 8, 2017
Unique in the sense that it is unedited letters and a diary written by a soldier on the front. Not by an aging officer remenising his exploits years later with a fading memory.
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on February 28, 2018
An excellent book from a soldier's perspective.
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on February 16, 2014
'All For The Union' is another first hand description of the civil war written by Elisha Rhodes, a Union soldier from Rhode Island. Unlike Company Aytch, Rhodes writes his narrative somewhat like a diary. His account of what he witnessed and took part in was interesting but did not have the realism of the horror and carnage that actually took place during those engagements. The reader feels more detached from what is being described in Rhodes, 'All For The Union.' But, I would recommend this book to any person who has an interest in the civil war because there are only a few books written of this conflict by the foot soldier who participated in that conflict.
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on February 28, 2007
If you are interested in more than big names and big battles this book is well worth reading. Elisha Hunt Rhodes shares his experiences from his enlistment as a boy having never been away from home until his mustering out as a man having earned the rank of Col. He writes in an honest straight forward manner about every aspect of daily life. His strong belief in duty, sense of right and wrong and his ever important sense of humor show in everything he writes. He's an optimist that made it through the war with all these attributes intact. Thankfully for us he kept this diary so that we can understand a little more about life during the Civil War.
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