No. 1233



When I started reading Carl Barger’s new book, “Sons of War,” I had no idea what was in store for me and how thrilled I would be with my decision to read it. Carl is a master storyteller, and in this book he is able to capture the essence of America’s bloodiest war, the Civil War. From a historical family perspective, he transports his readers back to the years leading up to and during a war that would take the lives of 620,000 Americans, wound 475,000 more and have more than 400,000 missing in action.
If you can imagine a time when there were no modern conveniences, and most people survived by tilling the soil, producing their own needs and having large families where every member pitched in to help, you can begin to understand what life was like here in America during the 19th century. These forefathers also provided the family, spiritual and character values that helped to make our nation what was to become the greatest in the history of the world.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the Barger family immigrated from Wurttemberg, Germany, in the 1770s, coming to the state of Pennsylvania, and then spreading out to Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee, and then to Reynolds County, Missouri, the place where our story really begins. The central character is Allen Barger, who marries Nancy Bullock on Nov. 10, 1833, and what a beautiful love story it is. At this point the clock starts ticking, children are born, farms are bought, and families are reared. As the years go by, it becomes painfully obvious to everyone that a great Civil War is coming to our land.
The issue of slavery would divide even families, who were torn apart by those who were unwilling to compromise their convictions. This was made even more painful as this heartfelt story is set in the state of Missouri where the slavery issue was particularly volatile. Allen and Nancy’s three sons -- James, Jesse & Henry -- all joined the Missouri 26th Infantry Regiment and fought for the Union.
At this point, please allow me to just talk with you for a bit. One of the hardest things to do is condense a whole book into one page and I have done my best to set the stage so you can appreciate the tremendous true-life story that unfolds here. As I said earlier, Carl Barger is a master storyteller, and he uses words to create mental pictures so vivid that you feel you are actually there in person. When it comes to the actual chapters about the war, he includes many details that make it so personal. What I was reminded of, and have thought so little about it in the past, is the tremendous amount of suffering and sorrow that came to people who lived in this sad era of our nation’s history.
Just think about all the mothers who grieved when their sons left home to fight in the war, and even a sadder time when they learned they would never come home where they could hold them and tell them how much they loved them. Then think about the sadness of those slaves who were freed but had to endure the work of the KKK, slave owners, and other forces in society who were bitter because they had lost the war. If there has ever been a sadder time in our nation’s history, I don’t know what it would be. Carl’s book “Sons of War” is available at, and I recommend it.
(Editor’s Note: JIM DAVIDSON is an author, public speaker, syndicated columnist and founder of the Bookcase for Every Child project. Since its inception in 1995, Jim’s column has been self-syndicated to over 375 newspapers in 35 states, making it one of the most successful in the history of American journalism.)