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When I told my father, he wanted to persuade me not to go. No, dont go, George, and I will send you to school, he told me. He warned me that I was not going into a frolic, but I wanted the excitement. George Washington Rabb, of Newton in Catawba County, North Carolina, enlisted in the Confederate Army as a sharpshooter on April 27, 1861. He was nineteen years old. Standing on the shore at Sewells Point, he would watch the Merrimac and Monitor duel to a draw, a dog fall, he describes it. His regiment, the Twelfth, would fight in many of the Civil Wars major battles The Seven Days, Sharpsburg, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg and Rabb would lose his leg at Fishers Hill. At eighty-eight years old he recorded his deployments. A remarkable memory and eye for detail distinguish Rabbs account, vivifying the wars brutality and its interludes of mercy, as retiring across the Potomac after Sharpsburg, he shoots down McClellans pursuit right and left and nearly jams the river with dead men and horses; accepts an enemy invitation to a game of Seven Up during a flag of truce; scavenges the pockets of fallen Federals; protects a prisoner, whose hat bears the near-miss of a minie ball; and is attended, during his convalescence as a new amputee, by a red-headed visitor with curls hanging down her back whom Rabb would marry five and a half decades later. With a foreword by Michael Hill, Research Supervisor at the North Carolina Office of Archives and History, and an introduction by Rebecca Ikerd Alghrary, the editor and Rabbs grandniece, George Rabb: the Civil War Memoir of a Catawba County Tar Heel ?will lend, as Alghrary writes, to further appreciation of our Union and the cost of its preservation. And the cost was high.
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