Reminiscences of the Civil War
When the Civil War broke out, many young men in Texas were eager for the fight.
They did not know what awaited them.
John Stevens was one of these Texans.
The civil war defined America, and it defined the men who fought it.
Reminiscences of the Civil War is a first-hand account of the life John W. Stevens, who fought in the Confederate Army.
Drawing his first blood against the Army of Potomac, Stevens went on to fight at Gaines Mill, South Mountain and Fredericksburg.
Finally, Stevens journey took his to Gettysburg.
First he was a soldier, then he was a prisoner of war, then a free man, then a veteran.
It is impossible to think these experiences did not change him.
Nonetheless, Reminiscences of the Civil War seems almost to be set in a different world: Stevens is both opposed to slavery and fighting to protect it
Then he is a prisoner who feels only sympathy for his black captors.
In the last three chapters, he lays out his complex and often contradictory feelings towards other races.
He was clearly a man at war not just with the North but with himself, and his attempts to reconcile these two elements must have been the central conflict of his life.
Stevens’ memoir also contains fantastic stories of a 400-mile journey on foot, a daring prison escape, and scavenging for honey in the hills. Reminiscences of the Civil War is one of the most detailed and thought provoking memoirs from the Civil War.
John W Stevens (1832-1919) was a corporal in the 5th Texas Infantry Regiment, Company K. He is buried in Livingston, Texas.