John P. Irwin, my brilliant father-in-law, has just published A Quaker Soldier in the Civil War: Letters from the Front. I started reading it today. This is Jack’s second delve into the genre of nonfiction/military. The first was Another River, Another Town: a Teenage Tank Gunner Comes of Age in Combat.
A Quaker soldier is paradoxical, as probable as the reverent atheist or the selfless politician. This is exactly why I expect Jack is the best person to tell readers the story. He is fearless in tackling a contradiction.
From the preface:
[Lt. John F. Irwin] had to choose between two Quaker principles: pacifism and the opposition to slavery in any form. And his choice, once he made it, was irrevocable. He never wavered in his conviction that this war had a righteous goal, that of overcoming slavery. Yet, his letters hint of no malice toward his enemy.”
Lt. John F. Irwin was a prolific letter writer and offers his family (and us today) the soldier’s insight. Just the little I’ve read so far tells me not much changes. The food on the battlefield is horrible, and troops are forever tormented by rumors.