"Tobias was, indeed, a man who lived and strived for all that was good."

Mennonites were known for their involvement in the Underground Railroad. Born into a Mennonite family in the heartland of Pennsylvania, Tobias Kaufman answers President Lincoln’s call to arms in the early days of the American Civil War. In 1861, Tobias is only twenty-four, and like so many other men who have enlisted to fight, Kaufman is initially without a unit to serve. Governor Andrew Curtin creates the First Pennsylvania Reserves as a solution, and Kaufman begins his service as a private. Due to his natural leadership abilities and respect from his superiors, Kaufman climbs the military ranks quickly. He does not shy away from combat, proving his honor and devotion. He is wounded in battle and even captured by Confederate soldiers before spending time in prison for a brief period. He is celebrated for his service and continues to live an active but quiet life beyond the war until his death.

Culled from personal letters and archival documents, Kauffmann pieces together the little-known and humble story of his great-grandfather while exploring the impacts of violence and bloodshed from a war that significantly shaped American history. The book is not light reading due to the lack of chapter breaks and its dense narrative. The heart of Tobias’s story picks up in the second half of the book in Part II—although much of it has already been encapsulated into the preface—while the rest of the book offers a rich tapestry of detail familiar to historical biographies. Kauffmann is proficient in his research and relishes in Civil War fact. However, since little is known about the Colonel, Kauffmann relies mostly on extraneous elements to fill in the gaps. It is a book designed for Civil War enthusiasts and earnestly commemorates a veteran’s sacrifice.

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