Shenandoah University’s McCormick Civil War Institute has published its first book—one that chronicles a Union soldier’s wartime experience and his beliefs on war, politics and the homefront.
“So Much to Say” is an account of the Civil War experience of Robert Bradbury, a Union corporal in Battery D, the First Pennsylvania Light Artillery. The book includes 29 letters, 4 poems, 13 illustrations, five maps and 13 images.
The book is edited by Jonathan Noyalas, ’01 M.A., director of the McCormick Civil War Institute, and Charles Givens, a World War II veteran who began the original transcription and organization of the letters years ago. Givens, who died in 2001, is the father of Harriet Johnston, a Pennsylvania resident who donated Bradbury’s letters to the institute in spring of 2019. Bradbury was the grandfather of Johnston’s aunt by marriage.
Noyalas, who has read thousands of letters from Civil War soldiers, called Bradbury’s collection unique and one of the richest he’s seen. Not only does Bradbury document the happenings of the battlefield, but he also chronicles current events and the politics of the time, such as President Lincoln’s assassination and Jefferson Davis’ capture.
Bradbury’s discussions of soldier life, generals, political figures, comrades in First Pennsylvania Light Artillery, not to mention discussions of places he fought, marched through, and was stationed at are impeccably detailed. I would think that anyone with an interest in the Civil War in Virginia, particularly the operations around Fredericksburg and in the Shenandoah Valley, would find these letters useful, as would anyone interested in how Union soldiers made sense of the conflict and what enlisted men thought of generals and war-planners on both sides.”
Jonathan Noyalas, ’01 M.A., director of the McCormick Civil War Institute
Bradbury joined the Union army in 1862 when he was 18 years old. He served until the end of the war in 1865 and fought from the Virginia Peninsula to the Shenandoah Valley. During the war, he created the newspaper The Weekly Blunder. Afterward, Bradbury worked as a journalist in Philadelphia.
The book is now available for purchase at Amazon.com and the Winchester Book Gallery. After April 4, it will be available at other retailers throughout the Shenandoah Valley and beyond. In a pre-publication review, Brian Matthew Jordan, Ph.D., a professor at Sam Houston State University and Pulitzer finalist for his book “Marching Home,” described this edited collection as “remarkable” filed with “plentiful comments about the natural and material environments of war.” Jordan also noted that Bradbury’s letters are “spiced with his pungent political commentary and candid assessment of military leaders.”
All proceeds go to the McCormick Civil War Institute to support student endeavors and efforts at Cool Spring.
This is the first book that the institute has published. Since 2018, it has also published three volumes of the peer-reviewed journal, The Journal of the Shenandoah Valley During the Civil War Era.