Civil War Monitor, May 17, 2023
Delivered Under Fire is the story of one man’s efforts to keep soldiers and their families connected during the most divisive years in the nation’s history. It places Absalom Markland—all but forgotten by students of Civil War history—at the center of the effort to improve the efficiency of the military mail system, to restore and reorganize postal service in the former Confederacy, and to prevent the use of that institution to abrogate the rights of the newly freed men and women. But it is so much more than that. Candice Shy Hooper has made us feel the importance of mail service as an expression of humanity juxtaposed with the cold-bloodedness of war.
Despite Napoleon’s famous aphorism that an army travels on its stomach, historian Candice Hooper demonstrates in this book that an army’s morale also depends on regular delivery of the mail. Hooper’s account of how Absalom Markland managed the U.S. Army's mail service during the Civil War, and his role as Grant’s confidant during Reconstruction, is a valuable contribution to Civil War literature.
Although little known today, Absalom Markland made sure that the average Civil War soldier and the leading generals received the latest mail from the home front and the battlefield. This important work kept Union morale high, and Markland's work cannot be overemphasized.
Candy Hooper's new book only adds to her earlier study of the wives of Civil War generals and provides another important insight into the Civil War.
Candice Hooper has written a truly engaging account of the Civil War through the lens of an important but now forgotten figure. A.H. Markland was a noted antebellum journalist who literally delivered the mail to General Grant's soldiers and then helped integrate the US postal service after the war. This book brings to life so many aspects of the wartime experience that it should become a must-read for any devoted student of the Civil War.
Readers and writers who rely on Civil War-era letters to animate history have seldom given a thought to how such mail got delivered so reliably and promptly. Now Candice Shy Hooper has dispatched a true surprise package: the unusual and compelling life of General Grant’s military postal agent A. H. Markland, a truly unsung hero of the Union cause. One will devour this absorbing life story not only wondering how Markland did his unheralded job so well, but wondering why we cannot find another Markland to run the U. S. Postal Service today! Here is a special delivery treat for anyone who thinks there is nothing new to learn about the Civil War.
In this engrossing biography of Absalom Markland, the man in charge of getting mail to Union troops during the Civil War, Candice Shy Hooper has unearthed a fascinating, previously unknown facet of that exhaustively covered conflict. In compelling fashion, she shows how Markland’s astonishing ability to ensure the prompt delivery of letters from home to soldiers on the front lines provided a tremendous boost to their morale and fighting spirit, thus making this “messenger of joy,” as Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman called him, as crucially important to the Union cause as some of its more celebrated military leaders.
Delivered Under Fire is a fascinating exploration of an aspect of the Civil War that has hitherto received little attention, yet was of utmost importance to the common soldier. Hooper's splendid research opens the door on this new vista while her sparkling narrative makes the story come alive.
Great storytelling is an essential part of a compelling historical work. Candice Shy Hooper weaves a riveting narrative of an important but little-known Civil War figure in DELIVERED UNDER FIRE. This book informs and excites the reader - Hooper brings Absalom Markland to life with her characteristic substance and style.