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Your Brother in Arms: A Union Soldier's Odyssey (Shades of Blue and Gray) Hardcover – July 1, 2011

4.9 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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"The McClelland letters are good, informative, substantive primary sources. They contain insights into the sentiments and services of a citizen-soldier who rose from private to captain in the 155th Pennsylvania, a famous fighting regiment of the Army of the Potomac, 1862-1865."—Richard J. Sommers, author of Richmond Redeemed: The Siege at Petersburg

“[Your Brother in Arms] flows along at an engaging pace, always giving the reader a keen feel and understanding of McClelland’s perceptions and psyche. That these letters were penned by a young man still in his teens and then early 20s stuns the reader.
            Thoroughly researched and presented, this important collection will appeal to even the most seasoned armchair general. It reflects the outstanding efforts of McClelland, Plumb and the University of Missouri Press.”—Paul Taylor, Civil War News, January 2012

"[Your Brother in Arms] is a valuable contribution to Civil War studies."—James M. McPherson, Pulitzer Prize-Winning Author of Battle Cry of Freedom

"Your Brother in Arms is an excellent resource for those interested in the 155th Pennsylvania, as well as a useful material on the Army of the Potomac in general. Of specific interest, and as the heart of the book, are McClelland's letters. They range from evocative and philosophical to whimsical and heart-wrenching, and are full of rich content. They help us understand not only McClelland the soldier, but also of more importance, McClelland the man."—Scott Mingus, Cannonball

"I found the book to be enjoyable and rich in context with an easy flow. Plumb's chronological approach to the story adds a new light to the sacrifices shared by soldiers. Each chapter is well researched ... Your Brother in Arms is well worth your time to read." R. Scott Martin, Military Review, March - April 2012

Book Description

Follows McClelland from his enlistment to his encounters in a succession of critical battles, while the author expounds on his words by placing the events described in context and illuminating the collective forces at play in each account, adding a historical outlook to narrative.

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Product Details

  • Series: Shades of Blue and Gray (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: University of Missouri Press; First Edition edition (July 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0826219209
  • ISBN-13: 978-0826219206
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.5 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,745,347 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Robert Plumb's use of the letters written by the young Pennsylvania Union Army infantryman George McClelland provides a fresh, brillant perspective on the Civil War. This is in large part due to the articulate descriptions of the experiences and impressions the young McClelland documented in the 40 letters to his family. And what experiences this young soldier had! Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, North Anna River, Petersburg, Spotsylvania Court House, North Anna River, and Five Forks Virginia- he saw action in most of the major battles of the war! I found his discussions of the ups and downs of the various generals particularly fascinating.

Plumb does a superb job of setting the historic scene before introducing each letter. And then he provides valuable notes to explain the terms used in the letters. Overall, the book provides a unique view of the war- a view through the eyes of a sensitive, observant and articulate young soldier.
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Reading this well-documented and organized depiction of the Civil War accomplished for me something I consider crucial to the very continuation of our country: It brought me personally into the very center of the "story" through the letters of George McClelland within the context of broad overview. As an eighth grade teacher, I know how difficult it can be to create interest in the subject of history. We as citizens must personally relate to those who went before to appreciate and work to continue the great experiment which is our republic. Mr. Plumb has brilliantly structured the book so that the reader gets an overview of the war, then an overview of the 155th regiment's role in that time period, and then the role of the individual soldier, George P. McClelland himself, through his letters and Mr. Plumb's analysis of them.

Through this well-researched and documented book the reader will learn of the conflicts among the upper echelons of the military and Washington leaders, see the large picture of troop placements in various battles, travel through mud, heat, rain and snow with the soldiers, eat sweet potatoes and soggy hard tack, and try and sleep while the moans and cries of wounded soldiers penetrate the night after a battle.

The Civil War now resides deeply in my heart after reading this book, and I feel much more appreciative of the great sacrifice both sides made as well as the pride and firm convictions they carried within them.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Like me, you probably have read numerous grand histories of the Civil War by authors like Shelby Foote, Bruce Catton, and James McPherson. A book like Your Brother in Arms is still worthwhile because it puts an individual human face on the vast sweep of history and warfare. George P. McClelland (not to be confused with General George B. McClellan) served with the Union's 155Th Pennsylvania Regiment from Antietam to Five Forks, participating in all the major battles of the Army of the Potomac during that period except Cold Harbor, from which he was spared due to a wound he received at North Anna. He received another, more severe wound at Five Forks that almost killed him and laid him up until after the end of the war. He rose from the rank of private to captain during his service and was awarded the rank of brevet major. His life and career are briefly followed from the end of the war until his death.

Letters like McClelland's provide a tantalizing entrance into the experiences of an individual, but they do not stand alone to tell their story. They need context and explication to reveal the fullness of what they have to say. Context and explication require hard research and excellent writing. The author, Robert Plumb, has done that research and has done an excellent job of writing the text surrounding each letter. The basic organization is context for the letter followed by the letter followed by explication of the letter. The context, in turn, is organized into what was happening for the Army of the Potomac followed by what was happening for the 155th Pennsylvania regiment followed by what was happening specifically for McClelland. This organizational scheme is a good one to give a complete picture that focuses down in each step on McClelland.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a great civil war book, based on 40+ personal letters written by a Union soldier to his family as he participated in many of the major battles, including Gettysburg. Interspersed with the letters is well researched background on battle strategy and outcomes. While focused on a Union soldier and his unit, the book is well balanced from both a northern and southern perspective.
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As one who has read hundreds of individual soldier's accounts in preparation for a comprehensive study of the Army of the Potomac's winter encampment (Culpeper County, VA) in 1863-1864, I consider Mr. Robert Plumb's editing of this splendid book to rank at the top of all the published accounts I have ever seen. In particular, the reader does not have to guess what is next in the book simply because Mr. Plumb deftly introduces the principles, events, and his editing notes in a capsule manner throughout his study--an organizational tactic one wishes more editors would adopt . Now, about the letters of wonderful soldier, George McClelland..

Put succinctly, these are some of the very best wartime letters that have ever been published. And it helps, by the way, that McClelland is such a likable fellow that we become one with him as he marches, camps, and fights his terrible war. We also nod along with him--and occasionally chuckle--as he comments on the war from an intensely curious and informed perspective. And at the end of the book, we sigh with relief to know that--despite all odds--McClelland made it back home, and thereafter enjoyed a wonderfully loving and honored life. Indeed, George McClelland is the classic definition of the citizen soldier--and there is no greater patriot to be found in any era than that honorable category of men and women who fight for their country, and then carve out a contributive life following proud service.

This is a great book, and I recommend it to one and all..
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