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“The autumn of ’62 was grim.” The Union army, though progressing well in the west, seems to be failing in Kentucky and Virginia. The President is being criticized and soldiers are deserting.
On the farm, work continues and men from all around come to help raise a new barn for the Creightons. Dave Burdow sends over a load of logs he had cut. It is a symbolic, “Thank you” to Jethro for helping Dave earn acceptance back into the community. As they work the men all talk of the war and whether Lincoln is right or wrong. Jethro is offended that the men consider him a child who is not concerned with the war.
The Creightons receive a letter from Shadrach in which he explains how devoted the soldiers are to General McClellan. In Shad’s opinion, however, McClellan may not have what it takes to win the war. Jethro follows the path of the war in Shadrach’s atlas. He reads of Antietam and Fredericksburg worrying that Shadrach is there. The family finally receives another letter that Shadrach is safe. Nancy also receives a letter from John who had been at Stone River where, “The scenes of deth was sech as to make a mans hart hate war.” Many were deserting back to Illinois.
Chapters 8 reads in part like a Civil War history book. The events of the war permeate the lives of everyone. At this point it seems there is a uniform perception of the war. Conversations, newspaper accounts, and the first hand experiences of soldiers recounted in their letters, all echo disillusionment and loss of faith.