Few events in American history can match the triumph and tragedy of the Civil War. Many books have been written about the War between the States, but until now, none has chronicled—in their own words—the many important roles played by people from New Jersey. Beneath the Starry Flag is a collection of richly detailed eyewitness accounts by New Jerseyans who lived during the Civil War. Drawing from letters, journals, regimental histories, and newspaper accounts, Alan A. Siegel places the reader in the midst of these desperate times. The book depicts the war years chronologically, from the tense days when one state, then another seceded from the Union, through battles lost and won, to the victory at Appomattox and Lincoln’s funeral procession across New Jersey.
Readers will learn of the remarkable valor of New Jersey soldiers such as John Beech, a Trenton potter who won a Medal of Honor for bravery at Spotsylvania’s Bloody Angle. They will learn too of the sacrifices made by civilians, such as Cornelia Hancock of Salem County, who ministered to soldiers wounded on battlefields from Gettysburg to Petersburg. Siegel also tells of other people and institutions who played very different roles in the war, including Somerset County’s Daniel Cory, who said he would shoot the president if he could, the state’s leading Copperhead newspapers, which denounced the draft and discouraged enlistments, and the State Legislature, which at one point called for a truce and negotiations to end the conflict.
Siegel allows them all, enlisted men and officers, politicians and plain citizens, patriots and conspirators, to speak in their own words in often moving firsthand accounts. Their motives, emotions, and deeds are chronicled in this collection of stories, some which have been out of print for many years, others that have not been heard since they were first written more than a century ago. [Beneath the Starry Flag is an invaluable addition to what we know about this remarkable time in American history, perfect for the general reader or Civil War historian.]