Book Review Carrying The Flag: The Story Of Private Charles Whilden, The Confederacy's Most Unlikely Hero

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Title: Carrying The Flag: The Story of Private Charles Wilden,the Confederacy's Most Unlikely Hero
Author: Gordon C. Rhea
Publisher: Basic Books,A Member of the Perseus Books Group
Copyright © 2004
ISBN 10: 0465069568 / ISBN 13: 9780465069569
12 Chapters in 247 pages of text,2 maps,no footnotes but Sources are organized per chapter.
Original retail price was $26. New copies available at Abebooks for $20 now.

From the inside cover:

"For forty years, Charles Whilden lived a life noteworthy for failure. Then, in a remarkable chain of events, this aging, epileptic desk clerk from Charleston found himself plunged into the brutal battlefields of the Wilderness (May 57, 1864) and Spotsylvania Court House (May 820, 1864). In an astonishing act of bravery, he wrapped the flag around his body and led a charge that won critical ground for the Confederates, changing the course of one of the war's most significant battles.Gordon C. Rhea combines his deep knowledge of Civil War history with original sources, such as a treasure trove of letters written by Charles Whilden, to tell the story of this unusual life. Growing up in a prominent family that had fallen on hard times, Charles received a good education, and his letters reveal flashes of intelligence. But he failed at the practice of law in his home state and in his endeavors elsewhere, including copper speculation, real estate ventures, and farming. After the attack on Fort Sumter, Charles returned to Charleston to enlist in Confederate service, only to be turned down until the rebellion was on its last legs. Even then he saw only a few weeks of combat. But in that time, he discovered a bravery within himself that nothing in his former existence suggested he had."

I finished the book last night. The first 4 Chapters cover Charles Whilden and his family from his birth in 1824 up to his enlistment in the Confederate Army at the age of 39 in January 1864. He had tried to enlist 2 times earlier in the war but was declared medically unfit. He had 2 brothers who served. By January 1864, manpower shortages forced the Confederacy to accept soldiers like Charles Whilden. The final 8 chapters of the book are Gordon Rhea's riveting description of Charles Whilden short service in the Color Guard of the 1st South Carolina Infantry in winter camp in Virginia in early 1864 and The Wilderness and Spotsylvania Court House battles. The 1st South Carolina Infantry was in the Mule Shoe at Spotsylvania Court House. I might add that the book is a good starter book for persons like myself who have never read about those 2 battles. The 2 maps in the book make the battle narratives easy to follow and made me want to read more about both battles. This was my first time at reading a Gordon Rhea book. I don't know how to describe his writing style other than riveting. Suspense builds as you read.
 

Mdiesel

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View attachment 303680

Title: Carrying The Flag: The Story of Private Charles Wilden,the Confederacy's Most Unlikely Hero
Author: Gordon C. Rhea
Publisher: Basic Books,A Member of the Perseus Books Group
Copyright © 2004
ISBN 10: 0465069568 / ISBN 13: 9780465069569
12 Chapters in 247 pages of text,2 maps,no footnotes but Sources are organized per chapter.
Original retail price was $26. New copies available at Abebooks for $20 now.

From the inside cover:

"For forty years, Charles Whilden lived a life noteworthy for failure. Then, in a remarkable chain of events, this aging, epileptic desk clerk from Charleston found himself plunged into the brutal battlefields of the Wilderness (May 57, 1864) and Spotsylvania Court House (May 820, 1864). In an astonishing act of bravery, he wrapped the flag around his body and led a charge that won critical ground for the Confederates, changing the course of one of the war's most significant battles.Gordon C. Rhea combines his deep knowledge of Civil War history with original sources, such as a treasure trove of letters written by Charles Whilden, to tell the story of this unusual life. Growing up in a prominent family that had fallen on hard times, Charles received a good education, and his letters reveal flashes of intelligence. But he failed at the practice of law in his home state and in his endeavors elsewhere, including copper speculation, real estate ventures, and farming. After the attack on Fort Sumter, Charles returned to Charleston to enlist in Confederate service, only to be turned down until the rebellion was on its last legs. Even then he saw only a few weeks of combat. But in that time, he discovered a bravery within himself that nothing in his former existence suggested he had."

I finished the book last night. The first 4 Chapters cover Charles Whilden and his family from his birth in 1824 up to his enlistment in the Confederate Army at the age of 39 in January 1864. He had tried to enlist 2 times earlier in the war but was declared medically unfit. He had 2 brothers who served. By January 1864, manpower shortages forced the Confederacy to accept soldiers like Charles Whilden. The final 8 chapters of the book are Gordon Rhea's riveting description of Charles Whilden short service in the Color Guard of the 1st South Carolina Infantry in winter camp in Virginia in early 1864 and The Wilderness and Spotsylvania Court House battles. The 1st South Carolina Infantry was in the Mule Shoe at Spotsylvania Court House. I might add that the book is a good starter book for persons like myself who have never read about those 2 battles. The 2 maps in the book make the battle narratives easy to follow and made me want to read more about both battles. This was my first time at reading a Gordon Rhea book. I don't know how to describe his writing style other than riveting. Suspense builds as you read.
Not done reading this book yet but I have found it to be a good read. The book is an interesting step into the shoes of an ordinary pvt while also doing a good job of explaining the historical/strategic background. Easy & informative read
 
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View attachment 303680

Title: Carrying The Flag: The Story of Private Charles Wilden,the Confederacy's Most Unlikely Hero
Author: Gordon C. Rhea
Publisher: Basic Books,A Member of the Perseus Books Group
Copyright © 2004
ISBN 10: 0465069568 / ISBN 13: 9780465069569
12 Chapters in 247 pages of text,2 maps,no footnotes but Sources are organized per chapter.
Original retail price was $26. New copies available at Abebooks for $20 now.

From the inside cover:

"For forty years, Charles Whilden lived a life noteworthy for failure. Then, in a remarkable chain of events, this aging, epileptic desk clerk from Charleston found himself plunged into the brutal battlefields of the Wilderness (May 57, 1864) and Spotsylvania Court House (May 820, 1864). In an astonishing act of bravery, he wrapped the flag around his body and led a charge that won critical ground for the Confederates, changing the course of one of the war's most significant battles.Gordon C. Rhea combines his deep knowledge of Civil War history with original sources, such as a treasure trove of letters written by Charles Whilden, to tell the story of this unusual life. Growing up in a prominent family that had fallen on hard times, Charles received a good education, and his letters reveal flashes of intelligence. But he failed at the practice of law in his home state and in his endeavors elsewhere, including copper speculation, real estate ventures, and farming. After the attack on Fort Sumter, Charles returned to Charleston to enlist in Confederate service, only to be turned down until the rebellion was on its last legs. Even then he saw only a few weeks of combat. But in that time, he discovered a bravery within himself that nothing in his former existence suggested he had."

I finished the book last night. The first 4 Chapters cover Charles Whilden and his family from his birth in 1824 up to his enlistment in the Confederate Army at the age of 39 in January 1864. He had tried to enlist 2 times earlier in the war but was declared medically unfit. He had 2 brothers who served. By January 1864, manpower shortages forced the Confederacy to accept soldiers like Charles Whilden. The final 8 chapters of the book are Gordon Rhea's riveting description of Charles Whilden short service in the Color Guard of the 1st South Carolina Infantry in winter camp in Virginia in early 1864 and The Wilderness and Spotsylvania Court House battles. The 1st South Carolina Infantry was in the Mule Shoe at Spotsylvania Court House. I might add that the book is a good starter book for persons like myself who have never read about those 2 battles. The 2 maps in the book make the battle narratives easy to follow and made me want to read more about both battles. This was my first time at reading a Gordon Rhea book. I don't know how to describe his writing style other than riveting. Suspense builds as you read.
I was privileged to hear Mr. Rhea speak about this book with our local roundtable a few years ago. One of my favorite historians.
 
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bdtex

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Not done reading this book yet but I have found it to be a good read. The book is an interesting step into the shoes of an ordinary pvt while also doing a good job of explaining the historical/strategic background. Easy & informative read
Thank you for the reply. The book spurred me to follow up with more in-depth reading on The Wilderness.
 

bdtex

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I was privileged to hear Mr. Rhea speak about this book with our local roundtable a few years ago. One of my favorite historians.
He spoke at our Houston CWRT in March 2018. His topic was "On to Petersburg: Grant and Lee, June 4 – 15, 1864". Don't recall when or where I heard about "Carrying The Flag...." and purchased it.
 
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Mdiesel

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Thank you for the reply. The book spurred me to follow up with more in-depth reading on The Wilderness.
I actually purchased my copy at the same time I bought Rhea's Wilderness & Spotsylvania courthouse. I've a civil war era relative who was maimed for life at Spotsylvania during the attack on the Mule Shoe. So that kinda spurred me on to learn a bit more about these slugfests of 1864.
 
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