Deliver Us from This Cruel War:
The Civil War Letters of Lieutenant Joseph J. Hoyle, 55th North Carolina Infantry
BY: Joseph J. Hoyle, Jeffrey M. Girvan
Title: Deliver Us from This Cruel War: The Civil War Letters of Lieutenant Joseph J. Hoyle, 55th North Carolina Infantry
Publisher: McFarland, 2010
ISBN: 0786447575, 9780786447572
Length: 233 pages
McFarland and Mr. Girvan have given us one of the better first hand accounts of the Civil War that I have read in some time. Reminiscent of Stephen E. Ambroses A Wisconsin boy in Dixie: Civil War letters of James K. Newton, Girvan’s subject, Joseph J. Hoyle, is an exception and prolific writer who had some interesting and keen insights of the war. Girvan does a far better job of editing his book than does Ambrose, but nonetheless they are counterparts to a degree.
Hoyle was a spiritual man who loved his wife Sarah deeply, but found himself in the middle of a Civil War that would ultimately claim his life. The letters are often touching and poignant, and though Hoyle’s religious belief allow him a somewhat unusual reaction to war, the battlefield did test his convictions and the length of the war his resolve, though he never stopped believing in the fight and wrote home many times as a correspondent to a local newspaper.
Girvan offers up a nice introductory essay that touches on the historiography of social history of the Civil War soldier, and then continues with excellent historical overviews for each chapter along with solid historical exposition. The presentation is very solid with nice illustrations and maps, and Girvan’s timely and informative elicitation makes this book an excellent contribution to Civil War soldier studies.