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30 review for The Fremantle Diary: A Journal of the Confederacy (Classics of War)

  1. 5 out of 5

    Ron

    “Nowhere is the ignorance of what is passing in the South more profound than it is in the Northern States.” Fremantle 1864 A fascinating primary document from the height of the Civil War: An English officer traverses the Confederacy, interviewing the leaders and soldiers. His assessment: even after Gettysburg the South could have won. Granted, by that time he had Stockholm Syndrom symptoms. His northern contacts didn’t enlighten him otherwise. “All these [sectional] interests disappeared when the “Nowhere is the ignorance of what is passing in the South more profound than it is in the Northern States.” Fremantle 1864 A fascinating primary document from the height of the Civil War: An English officer traverses the Confederacy, interviewing the leaders and soldiers. His assessment: even after Gettysburg the South could have won. Granted, by that time he had Stockholm Syndrom symptoms. His northern contacts didn’t enlighten him otherwise. “All these [sectional] interests disappeared when the war ended. People wanted only to forget, and the diary was buried with the past. Today, the national mood has changed. Sectional bitterness has given way to a common pride in the glory and courage of both sides.” Walter Lord, 1954 On the other hand, as the preceding quote indicates the 1954 editor missed the mark entirely. “A people in which all ranks and both sexes display a unanimity and a heroism which can never have been surpassed in the history of the world is destined, sooner or later, to become a great and independent nation.” Fremantle Fremantle’s journey and journal were equally amazing. Landing in Mexico, he traveled across the south, sharing public transportation and accommodations with common travelers, connecting with Confederate leaders whenever possible, who usually welcomed him into their confidences and occasionally their staff, all the time understanding he had no official standing (but perhaps still hoping England might save them). To return home, he traversed the North as far as New York City and shared passage to England with Northern partisans. “But the mass of respectable Northerners, although they may be willing to pay, do not very naturally feel themselves called upon to give their blood in a war of aggression, ambition, and conquest.” Fremantle

  2. 4 out of 5

    Michal Mironov

    I’m fascinated by old travelogues and I consider this Victorian diary to be among the top! Although it’s certainly not for everyone - if you want to enjoy it to fullest, you need to know some historical background. So, the main protagonist decides to make an adventurous trip. Privately (absolutely no business reasons), traveling alone and using his regular holidays. Where? To the Confederate States of America. His goal? To watch and personally experience the American Civil War! And a reason for s I’m fascinated by old travelogues and I consider this Victorian diary to be among the top! Although it’s certainly not for everyone - if you want to enjoy it to fullest, you need to know some historical background. So, the main protagonist decides to make an adventurous trip. Privately (absolutely no business reasons), traveling alone and using his regular holidays. Where? To the Confederate States of America. His goal? To watch and personally experience the American Civil War! And a reason for such a voyage? Well, the author took part in several small-talks about politics in London's salons and found out, that due to military blockade, there was scarce and limited information about what was really going on in the deep American South… So he simply packed his suitcase and went to check it out in person! Not only did he manage to make this trip and survive. In fact, he completely over-achieved his original goal. In three months, the author crossed the whole South – starting from Texas and ending by crossing the frontline in Pennsylvania. But what is really astonishing, he managed to meet perhaps all the top people who meant something in the South: Lee, Davis, Benjamin, Longstreet… hell, Fremantle shook hands and talked to all the celebrities! And thanks to a stroke of luck but also his personal charm, they all wrote him letters of recommendation. So he basically ended up with having all doors wide-open everywhere. Fremantle traveled both VIP trains and rode old, lame horses. He shared tents with soldiers and slept in luxurious residences of the southern aristocracy. The very top generals shared with him their campaign plans, but he also witnessed deep troubles of ordinary war refugees. To put it in the contemporary context: what Fremantle really achieved, is similar to me deciding to make a road trip in USA during the current pandemic crisis. And just as side-effect, on my way I happen to personally meet Donald Trump, Obama, chief hygienist, Beyoncé, Brad Pitt, but also Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg. And I take a selfie with each of them. Well, much more than selfie: I would sleep in their houses, have long thoughtful debates about their future plans, and on departure, they would provide me with their car and a driver so I can move to another destination… Colonel Fremantle resembles a comic strip character or a fictional hero from adventure novels of Jules Verne. Except that Fremantle really did exist! A Victorian officer and gentleman, sometimes comically old-fashioned, full of contemporary and cultural prejudices, but at the same time curious, witty, great observer with an open mind. If you know some running jokes about a "typical British character" Frematle is their perfect embodiment. With some exaggeration, Fremantle actually resembles Marco Polo of the 19th century. Certainly, some of Fremantle's information needs to be put into context. I bet that some dumb white supremacists will certainly underline his remarks about contented and well-dressed black slaves. But it would be a great mistake to condemn a book or an author only because those superficial conclusions. This book is not a comprehensive analysis of the South, it is a raw, biased, personal diary of the traveler who, despite personal sympathies for the South, repeatedly expressed resentment to slavery and clearly exposes the southern hypocrisy: „I have often told these planters that I thought the word “slave” was the most repulsive part of the institution, and I have always observed they invariably shirk using it themselves. They speak of their servant, their boy, or their Negroes, but never of their slaves. They address a Negro as boy or girl, or uncle or aunty.“ Fremantle’s diary is literally packed with unique insights about how people lived during probably the most turbulent period in the entire history of the United States. Examples: - About the troubles with travelling and why some stagecoaches arrived with their curtains shut down: „It is a common thing in Mexico for the diligence to arrive at its destination with the blinds down. This is a sure sign that the travelers, both male and female, have been stripped by robbers nearly to the skin. A certain quantity of clothing is then, as a matter of course, thrown in at the window, to enable them to descend.“ - How wide-spread vice to carry a gun in fact contributes to polite conversation in the South: „The universal practice of carrying arms in the South is undoubtedly the cause of occasional loss of life, and is much to be regretted. On the other hand, this custom renders altercations and quarrels of very rare occurrence, for people are naturally careful what they say when a bullet may be the probable reply.“ - Why southern ladies living close to the frontline are much less aggressive than ladies living in the safe up-country: „To my surprise, these ladies spoke of the enemy with less violence and rancor than almost any other ladies I had met with during my travels through the whole Southern Confederacy. When I told them so, they replied that they who had seen many men shot down in the streets before their own eyes knew what they were talking about, which other and more excited Southern women did not.“ As I said, it is a truly engaging, firsthand testimony. A top class within its genre.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    Remarkable first-person account of the Civil War in 1863 from behind the Confederate lines by a 28-year-old English officer, who enjoyed "roughing it" in traveling from Mexico to New York (by stagecoach, train, horse, boat, and foot) and managed to meet almost everyone, including Lee, Longstreet, Pickett, A.P. Hill, Jeb Stuart, and Jeff Davis, and see almost everything, including being present at the Battle of Gettysburg – which unfolds in real time – and the violent New York draft riots. He got Remarkable first-person account of the Civil War in 1863 from behind the Confederate lines by a 28-year-old English officer, who enjoyed "roughing it" in traveling from Mexico to New York (by stagecoach, train, horse, boat, and foot) and managed to meet almost everyone, including Lee, Longstreet, Pickett, A.P. Hill, Jeb Stuart, and Jeff Davis, and see almost everything, including being present at the Battle of Gettysburg – which unfolds in real time – and the violent New York draft riots. He got himself out of many scrapes, including being taken for a spy more than once, and fending off wild hogs in Texas. His diary is still one of the primary sources for an impartial view of life in the South during the war – although it is not completely impartial, because he fell under the spell of the gracious and brave Southern ladies and gentlemen, despite his abhorrence of slavery. The Colonel Fremantle character in the movie "Gettysburg," with his bright red uniform and cups of tea, is such a caricature that I thought he was merely a plot device. However, his diary shows him to be savvy, curious, smart, and a jolly good sport.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Clay Davis

    An outstanding travelogue. The detail of the people and places are awesome. The author may be a good soldier but he is a terrible judge of battles and the Confederacy. How he got his high rank is a mystery. I would think that such an officer from a professional army would not be so easily hoodwinked.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Matthew Stienberg

    A wonderful traveler's perspective of the American Civil War. Told by Colonel Arthur Fremantle as he travels through the Southern States in 1863, he is witnessing events pivotal to the war. Seeing combat first hand, and the devastation of the South by the fratricidal war which nearly broke American in two. He gives us a rare outsiders glimpse into the war which we often only see through the American lens, North and South. I much enjoyed it for the period language and often strange comments about A wonderful traveler's perspective of the American Civil War. Told by Colonel Arthur Fremantle as he travels through the Southern States in 1863, he is witnessing events pivotal to the war. Seeing combat first hand, and the devastation of the South by the fratricidal war which nearly broke American in two. He gives us a rare outsiders glimpse into the war which we often only see through the American lens, North and South. I much enjoyed it for the period language and often strange comments about how people lived while the war was being fought. You could feel the heat of anger off the page as he described the way people felt about the war. Though he spent most of his time in the South, he did arrive just in time for the great battle at Gettysburg, and left just in time to witness the draft riots in New York. Though he ends his travelogue with the prediction that the South will become independent, he takes a fascinating look at the war and the culture of the United States in the 1860s. Well wirth a read by any history buff or casual reader looking for a different perspective on these events.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Babs M

    Fascinating reading. This book should be required reading for all high school and or college students. I absolutely loved this journal. As an Englishman on leave from the army he decided to visit America during the Civil War conflict due to the nature of the war. He visited the South because he had letters of introduction to more contacts in the South than North. He seemed to meet most of the major players in the Confederacy. Accounts of his difficulties traveling, the state of various cities du Fascinating reading. This book should be required reading for all high school and or college students. I absolutely loved this journal. As an Englishman on leave from the army he decided to visit America during the Civil War conflict due to the nature of the war. He visited the South because he had letters of introduction to more contacts in the South than North. He seemed to meet most of the major players in the Confederacy. Accounts of his difficulties traveling, the state of various cities during the blockade slowly making his way northward. He was at Gettysburg observing the battles from a tree. I really think it gives a great prospective from a casual observer of these times. It is wonderful to be able to read first hand accounts rather than interpretations by historians. His journal covers roughly three months from April to mid July 1863. Please read, you will not be disappointed.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Robert Coleman

    Freemantle was like the Forrest Gump of the Civil War. He watched the Battle of Gettysburg from a tree. He witnessed violent riots in New York City. A slave rowed him through the Louisiana bayous. On several occasions, he got in a bit of trouble with suspicious civilians. It seems like he met every Confederate general except Stonewall Jackson, and, even though Jackson had been killed before Fremantle's journey, his diary contains anecdotes about Jackson that he heard from others. The editor's fo Freemantle was like the Forrest Gump of the Civil War. He watched the Battle of Gettysburg from a tree. He witnessed violent riots in New York City. A slave rowed him through the Louisiana bayous. On several occasions, he got in a bit of trouble with suspicious civilians. It seems like he met every Confederate general except Stonewall Jackson, and, even though Jackson had been killed before Fremantle's journey, his diary contains anecdotes about Jackson that he heard from others. The editor's footnotes are particularly helpful for putting Freemantle's observations in context. This is a must-read for any Civil War buff.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Henry Chavez

    Freemantle's diary is a must read for anyone interested in the civil war and more specifically the time leading up to the battle at Gettysburg. His first hand account, albeit somewhat partisan, does at least try to document all he saw during his travels across the south. I enjoyed his English officer and gentlemen's perspective throughout. The book is an easy read, but I would recommend a map to follow his adventures more closely. As a Texan, I especially liked his time in Texas. His crossing of Freemantle's diary is a must read for anyone interested in the civil war and more specifically the time leading up to the battle at Gettysburg. His first hand account, albeit somewhat partisan, does at least try to document all he saw during his travels across the south. I enjoyed his English officer and gentlemen's perspective throughout. The book is an easy read, but I would recommend a map to follow his adventures more closely. As a Texan, I especially liked his time in Texas. His crossing of the boarder and traverse across our great state was fantastic.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

    The very-interesting diary of Arthur Fremantle, a British Coldstream Guards colonel who took three months' leave and travelled through the Confederacy, ending at the Battle of Gettysburg, meeting anyone who's anyone in the southern states - Jefferson Davis, Lee, Longstreet, Bragg, Stuart, Pickett, to name just a few - along the way. Some interesting anecdotes about life in the south during the war and, all in all, an informative expose from someone who saw the war up close on the Confederate sid The very-interesting diary of Arthur Fremantle, a British Coldstream Guards colonel who took three months' leave and travelled through the Confederacy, ending at the Battle of Gettysburg, meeting anyone who's anyone in the southern states - Jefferson Davis, Lee, Longstreet, Bragg, Stuart, Pickett, to name just a few - along the way. Some interesting anecdotes about life in the south during the war and, all in all, an informative expose from someone who saw the war up close on the Confederate side.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    Freemantle, a British army officer, traveled through the Confederate States for a bit over three months in 1863. Moving from the Texas coast through most of the states to end up in Pennsylvania in time to observe the battle of Gettysburg, he met most of the prominent Confederate military and political leaders and rubbed elbows with people of all classes.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Alan

    An interesting view of the Confederacy from an outsider (British Officer).

  12. 5 out of 5

    Rich

  13. 5 out of 5

    JPapai

  14. 5 out of 5

    William Ellis

  15. 4 out of 5

    Charles W. Long

  16. 5 out of 5

    Art King

  17. 5 out of 5

    robert santerre

  18. 4 out of 5

    G Wheeler

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Donohue

  20. 5 out of 5

    Wcrocket

  21. 5 out of 5

    Steven VanVoorhis

  22. 4 out of 5

    Carlton Mansfield

  23. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

  24. 5 out of 5

    Minato

  25. 5 out of 5

    Michael

  26. 5 out of 5

    Deanna

  27. 5 out of 5

    Walt O'Hara

  28. 4 out of 5

    Matthew

  29. 4 out of 5

    Richard Eccleston

  30. 4 out of 5

    Tom

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