Amos E. Stearns memoir  1864-1865
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Collection Scope and Content Note

Amos E. Stearns's account of his Civil War service and imprisonment, entitled Life in Rebel Prisons, is remarkably free of visible animosity towards his Rebel captors and is therefore a rather unusual document. Beginning with his capture at Drewry's Bluff and ending with his release, Stearns depicts his captivity as part of a harsh reality, but without attributing cruel intentions to anyone: even Henry Wirz, the infamous commandant at Andersonville, receives relatively favorable treatment. Since the narrative was written following the war (published in 1887 as Narrative of Amos E. Stearns, A Prisoner at Andersonville), time may have softened Stearns's opinions of the Confederates, or it may be that he was simply more empathetic or more forgiving.

Stearns's published diary, which probably provides the original source material for this narrative, provides a more downhearted sense of the despair and hardships suffered during imprisonment. Together, the two volumes provide a balanced record of Stearns' experiences, offering insight as well into the ways in which the experiences of war were recrafted in the minds of veterans as the years passed.

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