Saturday, February 07, 2009

Goddard / Zon: "The Good Fight That Didn't End: Henry P. Goddard's Accounts of Civil War and Peace"

Personal accounts of Civil War service are common enough in the literature (as we all know), but ones that deeply extend into and beyond the Reconstruction years are less so. Such are the writings of Norwich, Connecticut's Henry P. Goddard, compiled and edited by his great-grandson Calvin Goddard Zon and published as The Good Fight That Didn't End: Henry P. Goddard's Accounts of Civil War and Peace (University of South Carolina Press, 2008). After a brief stint in the 2nd New York Cavalry's "Connecticut Squadron", Goddard joined the newly formed 14th Connecticut in June 1862. Beginning his service as a sergeant major and ending it as a captain, Goddard's combat experience in the infantry extended from Antietam through his resignation in April 1864 (with a disability certificate).

Calvin Zon, who contributed the book's introduction and index as well as brief transitional narratives and occasional notes, has skillfully arranged Goddard's writings, which include letters, diary entries, and post-war reminiscences. Other sources, such as Charles D. Page's History of the Fourteenth Regiment, Connecticut Vol. Infantry, are extensively excerpted by Zon, to provide context and additional information.

The last third of the book comprises Goddard's journalistic work for Connecticut and Baltimore newspapers. In these articles he critically explores important issues of race relations, Reconstruction, and national reconciliation. While his newspaper writings advocated for black civil rights, they also reflected the deeply conflicted feelings many in the public had over Reconstruction policy.

This book is an obvious labor of love on the part of the editor. Zon's work is an exceptionally thoughtful compilation of his ancestor's writings, which comprise useful source material for researchers of the military campaigns of the eastern theater as well as historians interested in the key issues raised by the societal upheaval of the post-war decades, North and South.

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Other CWBA reviews of USC Press titles:

* Guardian of Savannah: Fort McAllister, Georgia, in the Civil War and Beyond
* High Seas And Yankee Gunboats: A Blockade-Running Adventure From The Diary Of James Dickson
* Vital Rails: The Civil War History of the Charleston & Savannah Railroad and the Civil War in Coastal South Carolina

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