Book Review: The War Outside My Window: The Civil War Diary of LeRoy Wiley Gresham, 1860-1865


by LeRoy Wiley Gresham, edited by Janet Elizabeth Croon

El Dorado Hills: Savas Beatie, 2018. Pp. xxxiv, 444. Illus., maps, personae, append., notes, biblio., index. $34.95. ISBN: 1611213886

A Young Boy’s Civil War

In 1856, LeRoy Wiley Gresham (1847-1865) was permanently disabled by an accident that crushed his left leg. His family, prosperous, slave-holders in Macon, Georgia, were able to provide the best possible care for him, by the standards of the times. Possessed of a lively mind, he was widely read and often quite witty, and from mid-1860 began keeping a diary which reached some hundreds of pages before his death from tuberculosis. Eventually deposited in the Library of Congress, it has been edited and annotated by Ms. Croon, a former teacher, and offers a unique picture of life in Georgia during the Civil War.

LeRoy makes comments on family life, secession and abolition, favoring the former and opposing the latter, and frequently discusses war news, usually on the basis of speculative or inaccurate reports. He speaks of his travels around town, in a little wagon pulled by his brother or personal slave, and his pets and hobbies.

A voracious reader, LeRoy often remarks on books, at times rereading his favorites, as well as on newspaper and magazine articles, the latter offering insights into how the war was perceived by people in the Confederate interior.

Along the way, LeRoy gives us asides on how families adapted to wartime conditions, improvising to replace scarce goods, coping with inflation, and the threat of military occupation. Naturally we get a lot of information about his illnesses and the largely inadequate treatments he received.

The War Outside My Window, which has been nominated for several book awards, offers an outstanding look at the Confederate home front for anyone with an interest in the Civil War.


Note: Also from Savas Beatie, The War Outside My Window: The Civil War Diary of LeRoy Wiley Gresham, 1860-1865 (edited by J. E. Croon): A Comprehensive Curriculum Guide for Teachers, by Kimberly Conrad and J. E. Croon, $24.95 paperback, ISBN 978-1-6112-1472-7


The War Outside My Window is also available in several e-editions


Reviewer: A. A. Nofi   

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