The Crowther Letters: Family, Companions and Rebels

By Bob Hileman, Jr.

2004, Word Association Publishers

270 pages

ISBN 1-59571-017-5

$20 (plus postage)


"Oh, but the bullets did whistle past Papa's head," wrote Colonel Crowther to his 7-year-old daughter, Allie, just days after the battle.

In this, the first volume of The Crowther Letters, the reader will encounter the rarest of all historical biographies, that of the Common Man, or rather, a common man living in uncommon times. Biographical history, by its own definition, defers to selected lives of exceptional people having impact upon events. The life of Colonel James E. Crowther reverses that process. The event, the Battle of Kernstown, is recounted through the eyes and words of one who is intricately part of the event, both as observer and participant. This is history as it happened, not reported from a mountaintop or recollected from an easy chair.

Hileman's treatment is sagacious; he lets a good story tell itself. Never intrusive, working behind the scenes weaving in useful narrative data, the life of James Crowther is presented in uncluttered richness. Hileman allows his subject to talk directly to readers 140 years later. It's all there: Crowther's frustrations, his growing impatience with higher command, his understandable concern for his family and future, and finally, his heart-felt pride in the men serving under him.

Table of Contents

  • Life before the war
  • Three months in the cavalry: the 14th Pennsylvania Infantry
  • When cultures collide: the forming of the 110th Pennsylvania Volunteers
  • Off to the front
  • Springtime in the valley