Item description for Reveille in Washington, 1860 - 1865 by Margaret Leech...
Winner of the 1942 Pulitzer Prize in History, it is an authentic, scholarly description of life in Washington during the Civil War, written in a highly readable style. In 2001 a Reader's Catalog Selection, "one of the 40,000+ best books in print."
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.8" Width: 6" Height: 1.5" Weight: 1.75 lbs.
Publisher Simon Publications
ISBN 1931313237 ISBN13 9781931313230
Availability 70 units. Availability accurate as of Jan 23, 2017 12:45.
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More About Margaret Leech
Margaret Leech (1893-1974) was an American historian, novelist and dramatist. She twice received the Pulitzer Prize in history, for "Reveille in Washington" (1942) and "In the Days of McKinley" (1960); with the former she became the first woman to receive a Pulitzer in that category. James McPherson was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1989 for "Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era." His other bestselling books include "For Cause and Comrades, Drawn with the Sword, What They Fought For; Gettysburg"; and "Fields of Fury." A professor at Princeton University, he lives in Princeton, New Jersey.
Margaret Leech was born in 1893 and died in 1974.
Margaret Leech has published or released items in the following series...
Reviews - What do customers think about Reveille in Washington, 1860 - 1865?
A Book to Cherish Jan 26, 2004
FULL DISCLOSURE: I am a native Washingtonian and a Civil War enthusiast. (I would have said "buff," but like that sage, George Costanza, I'm not sure what a buff is.) So having said this, I love this book. Leech is a wonderful writer and this Pulitzer Prize winner is a discovered gem. (Original copyright 1941)
You're hooked from the start -
"That winter, the old General [Winfield Scott] moved from the rooms he had rented from the free mulatto, Wormley, in I Street to Cruchet's at Sixth and D Streets. His new quarters, situated on the ground floor - a spacious bed-room, with a private dining-room adjoining - were convenient for a man who walked slowly and with pain; and Cruchet, a French caterer, was one of the best cooks in Washington."
The "star" of the book is, indeed, the city of Washington, D.C. Many players walk across the D.C. stage and Leech's research paints vivid portraits not seen before about the Lincolns, Walt Whitman, Andrew Carnegie, Winfield Scott, John Wilkes Booth, and many, many others. It's a D.C. you have never really seen or heard that much about. It's a scrappy, dusty/muddy, unfinished city, begging for respect. A city that found itself a lynchpin between Union soldiers heading to battle and the many battlefields of Virginia. We see the soldiers come, go and return. Some are dead, many are wounded. But the focus is always on the District of Columbia.
Past and present D.C. residents will get a kick out of reading things like "Tennallytown" for today's Tenleytown; the importance then of today's Bladensburg; the importance then of what today are mere Metro stops - e.g., Fort Totten, the Navy Yard and Silver Spring. Even Rockville, Maryland, puts in a guest appearance.
Leech covers the key years - 1860 to 1865 - with painstaking research. Just take a glance at the Appendix. "Bills for President Lincoln's Funeral," "Other Incidental Bills" -- to include Mrs. Lincoln's funeral outfit. Look at the chronology of main events from Fort Sumter's surrender (April 13, 1861), to the Grand Review of the Union armies (May 23 & 24, 1865). You'll find biographical notes on major players from Henry Adams to John Ellis Wool. (I hadn't heard of him either until this great book.)
Leech's bibliography covers hundreds of general reference works, D.C and New York newspapers and manuscripts. It's a breathtaking list and helped assure me that I could draw a good deal of confidence in the events as reported by Ms. Leech. No wonder this book won a Pulitzer!
Listen to D.C., 1864 -
"The capital, in 1864, was too sophisticated for panic. No city ever heard the noise of cannon in its suburbs with a greater appearance of sang-froid. People were eager to learn the facts. They bought and devoured every newspaper extra."
This touching scene from 1865 -
"Gray uniforms, rather than blue, now predominated in the capital. There were increasing numbers of Confederate deserters. Twilight was settling over Richmond. Lee's losses of starving and disheartened men could be counted by brigades."
Ms. Leech would be surprised to learn that Ford's Theater did, indeed, reopen. ("Never again would the orchestra play, or the footlights flare as the curtain rose.") She also does something unique. While she sets the stage for Lincoln's assassination and death, she spends more time and detail with the attempted assassination of William Seward. It is a vivid account.
Remember, a 1941 copyright, and read this genteel description of Walt Whitman -
"Even in the heterogeneous company of the capital, Walt Whitman had no counterpart. His scarlet face, bushy beard and wide-brimmed sombrero gave him a delusively robust and rural aspect which caused one politician to tell him he looked like an old Southern planter . . . In his youth, Walt had been a dandy. His rough garments were carefully selected. He never wore a tie; but his spotless shirt, with its open collar was Byronic rather than proletarian. There was a queer daintiness about this big, bluff man . . . His flesh was soft and rosy, like a woman's."
What a brilliant description of what, in 1941, must have been handled with kid gloves.
This book delivers on all fronts. It is spellbinding history with up-close touches that dazzle you. You read of a Washington full of serenading, balls, levees, secessionists, abolitionists, Democrats, Republicans, soldiers, the great and the horrid. Those were the days. Long remember.
Washington during the Civil War Jun 1, 2003
This is an interesting look at what was going on in the nation's capital during the war with a look at the hospitals, nursing care, saloons, and man on the street of 19th century DC.
History that reads like a novel, Jul 30, 2002
or one of those long running soap operas from the golden age of radio. Characters coming & going then reappearing later in the story. There are villians, heroes, heroines, conspiracy & even murder. This excellent, informative work evokes two eras. First its subject matter giving us a history of Washington during the Civil War. This subject has not been covered as heavily as the various battles & endless biographies of the notable figures of that war. The book was written 76 years after the war. Here we are 62 years after that listening to Ms. Leech words, also of a different era than our own. The language in which it was written is quaint, colloquil & even offensive to some in our time. That is part of it significance as an important work. It is also an entertaining history book. Imagine that.
Florid and Fact Filled. Jun 5, 2000
Margaret Leech's "Reveille in Washington" is a fact filled book that betray's her origins as a novelist.
For the Civil War afficianodo, there are many tidbits that add to one's understanding of the Civil War as viewed from Washington, D.C. These involve fascinating interactions among the players (Lincoln, members of the Senate, Stanton, Seward and Chase), and also reminders that even in the midst of war, Washington still minded the habits and customs of society in our nation's capital. Lincoln still had (as the first host) parties, endured the countless details of administration and grinding demands of petitioners, and found time for levity and respit.
Like its counterpoint "Ashes of Glory," an excellent account of wartime Richmond, Reveille in Washington will broaden the understanding of those of us who have waded through countless military oriented books of the Civil War. Ms. Leech also includes a helpful timeline and an excellent appendix on scores of the characters in her book. For those who often wonder "what happened after..." to historical personages, the appendix will satisfy by tying up a lot of loose ends. More history books should follow this habit.
My only slight criticism is Ms. Leech's overuse of adjectives. She describes every person and proper noun, sometimes to the point of distraction like a florid romance novel. This both helps and hinders the tale. While it makes the events and persons more imaginable to the mind's eye, she undoubtedly takes some literary license in describing thoughts, feelings and descriptions that can only be surmised. All in all it is not a major distraction, but does sometimes become tiresome.
That having been said, this portrait of Washington fills the gaps to a great story. Not only are the principals covered, but ordinary people, nurses, city jailers, prostitutes, hucksters and regular folk are given their due in this fascinating book that at times throbs with the pulse of a City that struggles to accomodate a war often at its borders and its need to reflect it's own normalcy and image as a first city in the midst of the great distraction outside it's gates.
An enjoyable read.
Introduction to Civil War Feb 12, 2000
This was the first book I ever read on the Civil War and it turned me on to a host of other CW books. This tells the story of Washington and Lincoln during the War Years and weaves a narration of the war itself. Explains the transition of DC from a sleepy capitol to a major city. Brings to life through wonderful writing the hustle and bustle of a great city. Loved it.