From Western Virginia with Jackson to Spotsylvania with Lee presents the diaries and letters of St. Joseph Tucker Randolph, a young Confederate soldier from Richmond, Virginia. As might be expected of the son of a bookseller, Tucker’s writings offer lucid and candid descriptions of the Civil War. Unlike most who served, Randolph fought in both the eastern and western theaters of the war. He began the war in the 21st Virginia Infantry, a part of the famed Stonewall Brigade, before moving on to staff roles with Henry M. Ashby in Tennessee and John Pegram in Virginia. Throughout it all, he kept diaries and wrote letters home, correspondence his family preserved after Tucker’s death in action at Bethesda Church in 1864.
Tucker’s lengthy accounts of campaigning in western Virginia in 1861 and early 1862 give many rich characterizations of the area and Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson. His writings from Kentucky and Tennessee in 1862 offers trenchant commentary on the failures of the western armies. Tucker’s return to Virginia in late 1863 as a staff officer gave him the perfect vantage point to write about Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, including a particularly vivid account of the Battle of Spotsylvania in 1864. Ample illustrations and maps help bring Tucker’s writings to life, making this book an excellent account of a young Confederate soldier’s Civil War.
Peter C. Luebke, editor of other Civil War narratives such as Albion Tourgée’s The Story of a Thousand and The Autobiography of John A. Dahlgren, contextualizes the writings and provides thorough annotation on the people, places, and events mentioned.
Noted scholar Gary W. Gallagher, the John L. Nau III Professor in the History of the American Civil War (emeritus) at the University of Virginia, contributes a foreword that amplifies the importance of Tucker’s writings.