Since we’re unrolling the upcoming spring titles for the Emerging Civil War Series, we thought we’d take a moment to remind you about one of our fall releases that’s coming soon: The Aftermath of Battle: The Burial of the Civil War Dead by Meg Thompson.
“To be able to tell the stories of those who gave their last full measure is an honor, and one I do not take lightly,” Meg says. “Walt Whitman wrote that ‘The real war will never get in the books.’ I have tried to tell a little bit about that part of the war. I do not think of a soldier’s body as anything other than remains. It is by examining these remains that we get to know an important part of his story, to know his life through death.”
Aftermath is Meg’s first book (although she has an appendix in the upcoming Fight Like the Devil). “I love the feeling that this is my own book,” she says, admitting that it’s not been without its challenges. “I especially enjoyed the give and take among all the editors, especially when one of the editors quit on me,” she laughs.
“I also liked finding out about rotting bodies, levels of decomposition, and how remains tend to fall apart when being buried in a trench,” she says. “Now I know where all the good horses are buried—sort of.”
From the back cover:
“What did they do with all the bodies after the battle?”
It’s one of the most common questions battlefield visitors ask. And, although they perhaps don’t realize it, it’s also one of the most sublime.
The answer is one of the most complicated stories of the entire Civil War: how armies on both sides learned to deal with death in its realest sense.
The scale of the slaughter was unfathomable. The logistics of clean-up unprecedented. The work itself grisly. The learning curve was shocking and intense—and heartbreaking.
The Aftermath of Battle begins when the stories of the battles end. It tells of shocked armies and overwhelmed communities dealing with thousands of dead . . . families struggling to retrieve the remains of lost loved ones . . . a government trying to collect and reinter its fallen sons.
This is not just the story of a nation’s attempt to come to grips with wholesale death—this is death up-close and all-too personal. This is the story of bodies strewn across the battlefield in the hot summer sun—and the urgent need to do something about it.
Meg Thompson is a contributing historian for Emerging Civil War whose work has been featured on C-SPAN. A writer, teacher, and curriculum developer since 1987, she has taught at both the elementary and middle school levels for over thirty years. She graduated from California State University, Long Beach with a B.A. in liberal studies and has been involved in continuing education for her entire career; she is currently a master’s candidate at American Public University, majoring in military history with a Civil War emphasis. She lives in Hollister, California, in a lovely 1928 bungalow covered with roses outside and books inside.