“They All Wore a star is a detailed account of the war from soldiers and officers in the first part of the Atlanta Campaign, focusing heavily on the desperate action to claim a Confederate battery in the Battle of Resaca. The author brings the story from the bottom up and gives insight into the war that the common soldier experienced.” –Lee White, Ranger, Lookout Mountain National Military Park
An excellent account of both the daily life of Civil War soldiers and and a dramatic battle for a gun battery told by weaving together excerpts from contemporary letters, diaries, other correspondence and military records. Extensive research and a narrative that provides clarity through background and explanations make for a readable, interesting book that provides insight into the lives of the people who actually fought the war.
This book was interesting reading. In various small ways, it reminded me of my days in combat. There were letters home talking about the searches for water, the sound of a pitched battle less than a mile away without a clue about what was going on, the gentle rain of leaves shredded by bullets passing overhead, etc.
I quickly noticed that the soldiers are interested in a few things that American historians pass over. The Union soldiers are very upset about something known as Fort Pillow, but Fort Pillow is too controversial for moderns to mention. I saw a few mentions about how competent the 48er veterans were. American historians do not take much interest in them even though they were very anti-slavery and may have formed 10% of the union army. There is an old proverb that says that the South had the best Generals and the North had the best Sergeants and the Sergeants won. I suspect that a lot of those Sergeants were the 48er veterans.
The letters and official reports are mostly preserved with their original grammar and spelling intact. I do remember the author pointing out that “corpse” of wood should be read as “copse” of wood. It is interesting to read exact words of the participants.
This book details the soldier’s life in letters home, diaries, regimental histories etc. From joining up, living the day to day boring camp life, to charging an entrenched position with death or maiming a possible outcome, this book brings the Civil War soldier’s story to life. The author follows an Illinois regiment that includes his descendant, and develops the events and individual stories that lead to Resaca, Georgia.
“Miller’s work is a welcome addition to Civil War scholarship. This is an excellent resource for those interested in a myriad of primary sources material. These sources, Union and Confederate, illustrate the interplay among events, the role and decisions of historical actors, and the insight provided by these historical actors. These sources represent a body of knowledge that provide vital information of use by historians, researchers, and those interested in the American Civil War. Much like James McPherson’s efforts to capture the sentiments of soldiers, Miller additionally puts a personal touch upon this narrative by following his own great-great grandfather’s experience. As Miller argues, the Battle of Resaca represents an understated aspect within the narratives of the American Civil War. They All Wore a Star: In the Fight for the Four-Gun Battery provides a foundation for understanding the motivations, perspectives, successes, and setbacks. Miller’s work offers a remedy to fill in the gap of American Civil War scholarship by providing this wealth of sources to again give a voice to those historical actors that have since been silenced.” — Victoria Bryant Stewart, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor of History at Northwest Florida State College
“Mr. Miller has written one of the best documented and detailed works on the American Civil War in decades. He has combined both exciting research as well as personal first hand site visits that make They All Wore a Star to come alive to the reader.” — Ken Padgett, Founding member of the Friends of the Resaca Battlefield