A Prussian perspective on The War Between the States
From Free North Carolina
Sebastian from Bavaria, Germany writes a book review for SNN readers about a Prussian officer who served in the Confederate Army:
Sometimes attics harbor treasures. German Brigadier General Horst Scheibert made this experience while rummaging in the attic of his family’s home. What he found, surprised him – the diary of his grandfather Justus Scheibert, one of the first war correspondents of the world, writing about his experience in the War between the States.
Justus Scheibert (1831 – 1903) was what today would be called an “embedded war correspondent”. On his mission in the name of the King of Prussia, he ate, laughed, mourned and fought for seven months with the Confederate Army of Robert E. Lee and the Cavalry of Jeb Stuart. Scheibert participated in the battles of Chancellorsville, Brandy Station and Gettysburg. He made friends with Major Heros von Borcke, perhaps the most well-known German serving on the Confederate side. Being a fortress engineer in the Prussian Army, Scheibert helped with the fortification of the beleaguered city of Charleston, SC.
It is thanks to the effort of his grandson that Scheibert’s hand-written draft of the internal army report made it into a book and was published in Germany in 1991. While Scheibert managed to publish two books on the issue after his return home back in the day, it is only the internal report published by his grandson that contains all chapters and details.
What sets this book apart from many other eyewitness reports of The War Between the States is that it was written by both a foreigner and a professional. Coming from the Prussian Army, then considered to be one of the best of the world, Scheibert clearly analyzed the strengths and weaknesses of the Confederate Army and combines personal impressions with expertise. Also enclosed are a couple of photos and some of the hand-drawn maps of battles, like sketch of the situation of the beleaguered Charleston, SC.
His writing are not only worthy in terms of military analysis, but also as an independent description of the living conditions during the war. More so, his writings clearly reject the idea that the war was fought for the right of a few plantation owners to hold slaves or even white supremacist ideas, as it is portrayed today. Observing how “free” black folks suffered as a Pariah class on the British Bermudas, Scheibert expresses his view that an integration of black Americans as equal civilized citizens will simply take the of another generation. In his introduction, Scheibert also explains the different economic environments in the North and the South as well as the differences in immigration and society, which would eventually lead to a separation. Scheibert can’t help but to feel sympathetic to the desperate struggle of Southern people against Northern aggression.
“Im Feldlager der Konföderierten” makes an excellent gift for your German friends or for people with profound knowledge of German language and an interest in a foreigners perspective on The War Between The States.
Im Feldlager der Konföderierten, Verlag für Amerikanistik, ISBN 3-924696-66-7The attempted English translations on Google Books HERE.