While eyewitness accounts of the Civil War by enlisted men are uncommon, even scarcer are personal narratives from the Civil War in the West. These journals and letters were written by Lewis Roe, an Illinois farm boy who served in the 7th U.S. Infantry and the 50th Illinois Volunteer Infantry between 1860 and 1865. They offer details of an epic march from Fort Bridger, Wyoming, to New Mexico, a firsthand account of the Battle of Valverde (1862), and Roe's efforts to understand ongoing events as the country rushed toward the outbreak of hostilities. Later in the war, Roe documented the Union occupation of Rome, Georgia, and the battle of Allatoona, and left us a candid account of an enlisted man's experiences with Sherman's army on its March to the Sea and in the Carolinas Campaign. His relative objectivity and attention to everyday details make this valuable record a lively read.
John P. Wilson is also the editor of Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid as I Knew Them: Reminiscences of John P. Meadow and When the Texans Came: Missing Records from the Civil War in the Southwest, 1861-1862.