City of Manassas, VA . . . Letters Home, Three Years Under General Lee in the 6th Alabama, is a new work chronicling the experiences of a Civil War soldier from Alabama. This book will be the focus of a free Manassas Museum Book Talk on June 9 at 2 p.m.
Local author Gene Cross weaves the story of soldier Thomas Smith Taylor, from his optimistic days in an 1861 camp through the dark days of the coming war. Cross uses more than 100 letters Taylor left behind. The soldier’s individual experiences mirror the larger war, and the hardships endured by both sides of the conflict.
While serving under Confederate General Robert E. Lee, Taylor took part in some of the most well known battles of the Civil War, including those at Chancellorsville, Cold Harbor, and Spotsylvania Court House. Cross places Taylor’s letters in the larger context of the war and includes a detailed history of the 6th Alabama’s movements. Cross also supplements Taylor’s frequent mentions of his family with photographs, genealogical charts, and biographies. Despite witnessing death and destruction, Taylor maintained his faith, his patriotism, and the hope that he would one day return to his farm, his wife, and his two young sons.
Cross’ deep interest in history and inspiration for his book was sparked by his discovery of a faded envelope of Civil War letters in his great grandmother’s old steamer trunk. The find also inspired him to serve as a volunteer interpreter at Arlington House, the Robert E. Lee memorial in Arlington and to chair the friends group supporting the National Park Service in its restoration of the historic site. Letters Home, Three YearsUnder General Lee in the 6th Alabama is available at Echoes, The Manassas Museum Store.