New Fields of Adventure

The Writings of Lyman G. Bennett, Civil War Soldier and Topographical Engineer, 1861–1865

  • Author(s): Johansson, M. Jane
  • Series: Voices of the Civil War
  • Imprint: University of Tennessee Press
  • Publication Date: 2024-05-19
  • Status: Available in Paperback
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Lyman Gibson Bennett (1832–1904) had a curious mind and a keen sense of humor. He had an engineer’s mentality and a poet’s grasp of language, except for spelling. As a Union soldier, Bennett saw extensive service in the Trans-Mississippi Theater. A writer of considerable energy and intelligence, Bennett’s wartime diaries recount his diverse and wide-ranging military record, stretching geographically from the prairies of Illinois to the Rocky Mountains, while a postwar account details, among other things, his labors to recruit “Mountain Feds” in the Ozarks.

This volume provides the perspective of an individual who was both a topographical engineer—with extensive experience that spanned the country from Arkansas to the Overland Trail—and a common soldier. As a member of the Thirty-Sixth Illinois Infantry, Bennett provided one of the most detailed contemporary accounts of the pivotal Battle of Pea Ridge, March 7–8, 1862. By December 1863, Bennett was promoted to first lieutenant in the newly formed Fourth Arkansas Cavalry (US) and wrote an invaluable first-person account of guerrilla fighting in the Ozark mountains. Readers will delight in Bennett’s witty descriptions of the ankles (and even higher!) of ladies as they gathered their skirts to trek through the mud; his sometimes-cutting words about his fellow hospital patients; and his wry comments on that “exclusively southern institution,” the chigger. New Fields of Adventure will prove useful to scholars of the Ozarks, landscape studies, and the Civil War in the West.

Until her retirement, M. JANE JOHANSSON was professor of history at Rogers State University. She edited Widows by the Thousand: The Civil War Letters of Theophilus and Harriet Perry, 1862–1864 and Albert C. Ellithorpe: The First Indian Home Guards and the Civil War on the Trans-Mississippi Frontier.