Yet President Lincoln was wrong. Not deeds alone, but the words of the Civil War, have lived in our national memory, have formed our national character. The voices of the Civil War still stir us, more than a hundred years later. The sounds of battle, the words of high purpose-these still ring clear for us, who have lived through so many battles, so many causes.
In the commentary that weaves together the dramatic words on this tape, veteran Civil War historian Frank E. Vandiver suggests that-aside from slavery, which was resolved once for all in the mingled blood and the proclamations--the questions of this brothers' war were the very matter of our national soul: constitutional principles, indissolubility of union, common or divided purpose, common or divided fate.
In resounding tones, Vandiver brings alive the stirring words of the great American epic. The Gettysburg Address, Lee's Farewell to His Army, Lincoln's and Davis's inaugurals, letters and memoirs from soldiers in the field, speeches from the great orators of the day-all are gathered here and proclaimed for a new generation, and a people too soon old.
Frank E. Vandiver has published many books on military history and especially the Civil War, among them Their Tattered Flags and Mighty Stonewall, both available from Texas A&M University Press. He is a Distinguished University Professor of history and former president of Texas A&M University.