Of the many fascinating people whose lives have been nearly lost to history, George Lee Gaskell was one of the most interesting. Gaskell was a Union lieutenant, world traveler, polyglot, and politician with a keen eye for his surroundings and the natural world. His letters highlight the very human realities of his Army service that go beyond the monumental battles he fought in: Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, and others. Fiercely anti-slavery and disgusted by the attitudes of some of the slaveholding planters in the South, Gaskell encountered these prejudices firsthand when he was promoted to second lieutenant and transferred to the United States Colored Troops serving in Louisiana. His remarkable story ranges from a one-room schoolhouse in Connecticut to the thriving metropolis of Zanzibar to war, life, and love on the banks of the Mississippi. Gaskell’s experiences, told through his own words in letters to his cherished sister and to his hometown newspaper, speak of an exceptional man forged in an extraordinary time.
Robert Grandchamp has meticulously compiled and researched Gaskell’s life and correspondence. Grandchamp’s notes flesh out the major and minor people and places Gaskell mentions in his letters. The letters themselves are remarkable for their clarity and perception, as well as for their tenderness and vivid descriptions. Gaskell describes social changes, the profound shock of Pres. Abraham Lincoln’s death, and his personal life in a way that still speaks to readers today.
About the Author
Robert Grandchamp is a noted historian and is widely considered the foremost authority on Rhode Island military history. He has been honored with the John Russell Bartlett Society’s Margaret B. Stillwell Prize and the Order of Saint Barbara from the Rhode Island National Guard. The author of many titles on military history, Grandchamp received his MA in American history from Rhode Island College. He lives in northern Vermont, where he is an analyst for the federal government.
About George Lee Gaskell
Connecticut-raised 2nd Lt. George Lee Gaskell (1840-1926) enlisted in Battery G, First Rhode Island Light Artillery before being promoted to Battery G, Fourteenth Regiment, Rhode Island Heavy Artillery, United States Colored Troops, with whom he served as provost in Plaquemine, Louisiana. After the Civil War, he married a local woman, ran a successful business, served as town selectman, and briefly served as mayor. In the 1880s, Gaskell and his family moved to Ohio, then Tennessee. He operated a grocery until his death at the age of eighty-six.
A CONNECTICUT YANKEE AT WAR
The Life and Letters of George Lee Gaskell
By Robert Grandchamp
BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / Military
HISTORY / United States / Civil War Period (1850-1877)
HISTORY / United States / State & Local
200 pp. 6 x 9
34 photos 9 maps
Notes Biblio. Index