Review by Diane Snyder, Armchair Interviews
A Very Moving Story, Well Told – Armchair Interviews says: History brought to life by excellent storytelling.
As a young Rebel soldier lay dying of wounds in a Union hospital, he gets a visitor. He and the visitor do not know each other for the visitor is a volunteer who has been moved by the suffering and sacrifice of the young men on both sides of the war. For several weeks, the visitor sits daily with the young man, talking and offering some comfort and is with him as he dies. The visitor is Walt Whitman and the young soldier is Private William Prentiss of the 2nd Maryland Battalion.
In another part of the hospital a Union officer is being treated for his wounds. His name is Major Clifton Prentiss, William’s other brother. After William’s death, the remaining brothers gather at Major Prentiss’s bedside and ask that Whitman relate what he and William had talked about.
Whitman is able to give the family an account of William’s life after he joined Maryland’s Confederate army and as they talk, Major Prentiss shares his experiences with the 6th Maryland Volunteers. With a mingling of facts and imagination, the author brings back to life the Prentiss family that went from ideal to tragic in four horrifying war years. Clifton and William had not seen nor spoken to one another since William joined the Confederacy. Wounded in a battle at the end of the war within 20 yards of each other, both were taken to the hospital in the same ambulance. This was their only and final reunion.
This fictionalized account about a real Maryland family and their friends from 1861 to 1865 is so engrossing it’s difficult to put down once you begin. The author has researched Maryland’s history during that period and has taken events from letters, diaries and notes of Walt Whitman along with newspaper articles and other correspondences.
If you are a Civil War buff, make room on your shelf for this one; if you love history, you don’t want to miss this one and if you love an incredibly moving story indulge yourself by reading Two Brothers: One North, One South.