The Civil War Through the Eyes of a Seventeen Year Old Union Soldier

Jul 13, 2017

The Civil War is the deadliest war in American history, with hundreds of thousands of casualties suffered by both the Union and Confederate sides.

In Some of Our Yesterdays, a memoir posthumously unearthed by the family of Charles Seton Lindsay, the Civil War experience is vividly told by Lindsay, who fought for the Union as a teenager after enlisting against his family's wishes. He recalls the horrors of battle he witnessed in Williamsburg, Virginia.

"In one place as I came along I saw at some little distance to the side, two men standing facing each other against the trunk of a tree. Going there I found they were a Northerner and a Southerner; the former had pinned his enemy to the tree with his bayonet, while the Southerner, in his last agony, had evidently fired his pistol straight into the Northern man's face and practically blown it to pieces. There they stood, the one spiked to the tree, with his head hanging forward on his enemy's shoulder, his limp arms by his side; the other, supported by his gun, which was still gripped in his stiff hands, his body arched back as from the force of the shot, what was left of his face staring up into the heavens."

He poignantly accents this recollection by contemplating the similarities between the two countrymen.

"So dreadful a sight may I never see again! Men of the same country, the same race, the same religion, and both unquestionably patriots. God assail their souls. They both thought they were right and died for their belief."

On this Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe speaks with Lindsay's great-great granddaughter and editor Sally J. Scott, as well as researcher Cormac Broeg about the context of the memoir and how Lindsay's point of view compares to our contemporary views of the Civil War.