This memoir is no misty-eyed bit of nostalgia. Frank Wilkeson writes, he tells us, because "the history of the fighting to suppress the slave holders' rebellion, thus far written, has been the work of commanding generals. The private soldiers who won the battles, and lost them through the ignorance and incapacity of commanders, have scarcely begun to write the history from their point of view." Wilkeson's is a firsthand account of the fumbles and near-cowardice of the commanders, of their squandering of opportunity, materiel, and human life; yet it also portrays foolishness, cupidity, recklessness, and sloth in the ranks. Wilkeson believes stoutly in the virtues of private soldiers who enlisted early in the war; he has a jaundiced eye for the bounty-hunter, conscript, immigrant, and Johnny-come-lately soldiers of the 1864 army. Nor does he cover the battlefield with the haze of glory; he writes frankly and directly of the scenes of death and mutilation, of battlegrounds covered with dead and dying men and animals in the hot summer sun.