Chapter

John William De Forest (1826–1906)

Edited by Louis P. Masur

in “… The Real War Will Never Get in the Books”

Published in print September 1995 | ISBN: 9780195098372
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199853908 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195098372.003.0005
John William De Forest (1826–1906)

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Of all the writers at the time, John William De Forest saw the most action as a Civil War soldier. Through it all he kept writing: letters home, journal entries, essays for literary magazines, the beginnings of a novel. Ten years after the war, William Dean Howells, editor of the Atlantic Monthly praised De Forest as “the first to treat the war really and artistically.” Just months prior to the firing on Fort Sumter, De Forest was in Charleston, South Carolina, visiting his wife, whose father was a professor at Charleston Medical College. In an essay entitled “Charleston Under Arms,” he assessed the mood of the region. He condemned the South for laboring under assorted delusions, but he did so without deriding Southerners. As with so many other chronically ill young men, war provided De Forest with an opportunity to refashion himself into an energetic and fearless officer. His writings reveal considerable talents as observer, story-teller, and scene-setter.

Keywords: John William De Forest; William Dean Howells; Atlantic Monthly; Fort Sumter; Charleston Under Arms; Civil War; South

Chapter.  11362 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of the Americas

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