Rebel Private: Front and Rear

ISBN: 1885373422
ISBN 13: 9781885373427
By: William Andrew Fletcher

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Reader's Thoughts


Authentic memoirs by a Texan who enlisted, and refused advancement, as he believed it would hamper his freedom. After participating in many battles, spending time in hospital, he returned home. He was apparently quite broad-minded for his time and part of the country. It's very interesting to read what his granddaughter writes of her memories of him, as well.It started off well, but I got totally bogged down (and bored) in the details of each battle he was in. I am not into reading those kind of details. So for the first and last part of the book: 4 stars. This is purely my OWN preference, and has nothing to do with its historical merit, which is very great, I'm sure.

Sean Mccarrey

This was an excellent book in which William Fletcher, a Confederate private during the Civil War, details the extend of his vast travels. It's rare to have an entire account of a Confederate private during the Civil War. But even more rare is the fact that Fletcher saw action in everything from Gettysburg to the harassment of the rear guard on Sherman's March and still managed to tell the nitty-gritty. Furthermore, his frank and honest tone leave little to spare (with the exception of his sexual encounters which are hinted at but not talked about). This tone allowed him to talk frankly about the situation of slavery and how he felt about religion and politics without waxing ideological. A wonderful and an easy read.


William Andrew Fletcher enlisted as a private in Company F, 5th Texas Infantry. Hood's Texans were some of Lee's best shock troops (breaking the Union line at Gaines Mill & leading a counterattack at the Wilderness). Written in 1908 as a self-published volume, Fletcher confined his story to what he personally witnessed. A fire destroyed most of the copies but fortunately one copy found its way into the Library of Congress. A skilled woodsman & shot, Fletcher was also something of a loose cannon. He preferred scouting details--any duty that left him pretty much up to his own devices.Fletcher spends a lot of time talking about "foraging", which can range from shoplifting from a fruit stand to stealing chickens out of a chicken coop. Discipline was obviously quite loose.Fletcher was wounded several times. After being wounded in the foot at the Battle of Chickamauga, Fletcher transferred to the 8th Texas Cavalry, Terry's Texas Rangers. He was captured in Georgia, escaped off a train in Tennessee and was refused aid by someone who turned out to be one of his uncles. Fletcher joined up with a guerrilla band before rejoining his unit. He was in Columbia South Carolina the night it burned. Whether the fires were started by the Confederates or by Sherman's troops is still controversial.The back cover claims that he fought at Chancellorsville but Hood's division was with Longstreet in Suffolk Virginia at the time. Another confusing item is Fletcher's claim to have observed the Confederate's retreat after the Battle of Franklin. But Hood marched his army to Nashville after the Battle of Franklin and Thomas routed Hood's army at Nashville.Fletcher's style is folksy and enjoyable. This book is a pretty quick read.


The author relates his adventures, escapades, and hardships as a Private in the Rebel Army during The War of Northern Aggression. Well written and easy to read it gives us a sense of what the soldiers, of both sides, faced, how they thought, and why they were fighting. It is more interesting and more accurate than history text books.This is my third reading of this book.

Mark Henderson

An authentic glimpse into a soldier who fought in the Civil War from nearly the beginning to the surrender. Highly recommended. Anyone who wants to understand the Americana fighting man from an era will want to read this book. It's an incredible perspective.


A classic and well written journal of a Confederate enlisted soldier during the Civil War. Of the same genre as the Sam Watkins book, but very different in style and approach. Mr Fletcher is brutally honest, more observant, more hardened, and a bit more educated than Mr Watkins. A recommended read.

Kim Woz

This is the first book I've read that truly speaks to the everyday life of a soldier in the Confederate Army. One often reads what life was supposedly like for the common soldier, as most stories were told from the point of view of higher ranking officers. This memoir provides in great detail the true conditions endured by the soldiers.

Avis Black

Of interest as a realistic memoir, but how many books by a sociopath do you need to read? There are plenty of other good Civil War memoirs out there by people who are decent human beings who do not pull their punches, either.

Greg Sumers

Not nearly as renown as Sam Watkin's Company Aytch memoir, but definitely its' equal. Probably over regarded by me, since Fletcher served in the Texas Brigade. Totally devoid of commentary on the strategy, campaigns or "big picture" accounts, this is totally the perspective of the private during the war. What sets Fletcher's accounts apart is that he didn't seem to always have the same mindset as other Confederate soldiers and officers, but was candidly more "self preserving and self serving" in his decisions and rememberances. You can tell that nobody with a modern sensibility edited Fletcher's writing, which is refreshing.


While not as famous as Co. Aytch by Sam Watkins, Fletchers Rebel Private: Front and Rear is in my opinion better. Fletchers writing is a little less folksy and filled with tall tales than Watkins memoir, but it does still suffer from those traits to a lesser extent. The narrative can also be a bit spotty, and jump around a bit, which can make it difficult to follow at times.Despite its faults, Rebel Private offers an interesting look into the life of an ordinary soldier in the Confederate Army. Fletcher was present at most of the major battles in the Eastern Theater, through Gettysburg, and then went out west to fight with Longstreets I Corps at Chickamauga and East Tennessee. He even ends up being a POW, escaping, and then serving in Joe Wheelers cavalry for the rest of the war. Fletchers wide range of experiences help offer a broad picture of the life of a Confederate enlisted man. That's the main value to this work. You won't find detailed accounts of battles or campaigns, and the narrative is not always factually correct, but you do get a good window on the experiences and attitudes of a Rebel Private.


My dad came across this book through a family member - the author, William Fletcher, is a distant relation of ours. That aside, this is truly an interesting and amazing read. It really does give the down and dirty side of war and how one man survived by being smart and willing to do what he had to do. I'm going to have my 13 year old son read this because I think he will enjoy it and also because it graphically describes so many hardships of war that I expect are sometimes still experienced today. Anyone who has any interest in history at all and in particular, the Civil War, will appreciate and enjoy this book.


Was very interesting to read the account of a confederate soldier who fought in so many of the battles. The reading can get a little monotonous at times, but for the most part it flows along, but it is never a fast read. The battles aren't particularly exciting, but it was still cool because the author was a pretty daring guy and still some crazy stuff. Worth reading since there are so few accounts of a foot soldier's experience from the south.


A remarkable book, used as background information for GONE WITH THE WIND. This personal narrative by a surviving soldier of The Confederate Army during The Civil War has keen revelations about the reasoning behind activities on the battlefield of the day. The author had a great sense of irony and was able to uniquely convey his personal slant on the situations in which he found himself enmeshed. It's a good read, especially if your interests are The Civil War and The South of that period in general.

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