“There is something behind bayonets….the affections of home – the prayers and blessings of
the family circle – the active assistance of the women and children left
Maj. Gen James A Garfield
You may remember the 1998
Western Reserve Historical Society exhibit, “Civil War, for God, Union and
Glory.” The program was curated by Cleveland historian, David Van Tassel, who
expanded that research to create this book. Van Tassel died before finishing Behind Bayonets: The Civil War in Northern Ohio and his family asked John Vacha, also a
historian, to complete the work.
Behind Bayonets goes
beyond the heart of Garfield’s quote and reports interesting details of
events in wartime Ohio. He discusses Cleveland’s pre-war free black
population and strong abolitionist politics, Lincoln’s February 1861 stop in
Cleveland en route to the inauguration, personal reports of early enlistment
and camp experiences, Rebecca Rouse’s incredibly active and successful
Soldier’s Aid Society, the Squirrel Hunter’s March, and activities of
Vallandigham, Rockefellar, the Hannas, and other prominent locals, plus a few
pages about John W. Booth, who gave one of his last theater performances here
in Cleveland in December 1863.
Most of what you will read
here is not included in other Civil War books. Van Tassel and Vacha
bring us a fascinating read, liberally illustrated with more than 100 unusual
photos from the Western Reserve Historical Society archives.
Without doubt, Behind Bayonets has much to add to the library of Ohio Civil War enthusiasts.
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