Life and Letters of Wilder Dwight, Lieutenant-Colonel Second Massachusetts Infantry Volunteers

Boston: Ticknor and Fields.
THE charm of this book begins with the noble face which greets you from its first page, and which, once seen, haunts you continually, in all the bright and manly words and all the heroic deeds which find record here. You must needs turn to it often as you read, and marvel at the perfect expression it gives to the pure, cheerful, devoted life this brave young soldier led.
As to its external facts, it was the career of multitudes : the civil pursuit suspended, the military life embraced with as great ardor as if it had been a long-cherished purpose ; the seasoning of the good fibre in camps; the hope, the patience, the impatience ; the greatly desired battle, and coveted occasion, not merely to endure, but to do, — it is so common a career, that it seems the story of the whole nation ; only the nation lived triumphing, and the individual lives that reflected her heroism were dark to her success. But the career which in the letters here given is suffered, for the most part, to portray itself, was that of a man whose excellent soldiership was wrought of material noticeably fine, even in a country and a time that offered so much of the best to war. The clear-headedness and knowledge of the world which would have made a successful lawyer, and the grace and culture which might have won a reputation in literature, appear in the unconscious and careless letters dashed off amid the duties and distractions of camps; while the rare unselfishness, the tenderness and active goodness which marked the character of this soldier, are eloquent in the testimonies of the friends and companions in arms. “ I have lived a soldier, I die a soldier, I wish to be buried as a soldier,” he said to those who listened to his last requests, after his mortal wound at Antietam. Was our cause indeed so grand, and was the national purpose so exalted, that such a man— so fine, so clear, so kind — could think, in death, of nothing better than its championship ? Seeing the pitiful state into which we are so soon fallen, it seems; scarcely possible ; reading this book, we cannot doubt it.
We wish to say how simply and restrninedly this story of Wilder Dwight is told by one to whom the reader had been most willing to pardon excess of pride or fondness. It is his mother who has shaped the memoir, and with a brief preliminary sketch of his boyhood and college-life and travels abroad, has skilfully connected the letters which contain the narrative of his life from the time when he entered the army, at the beginning of the war, until the time when he was struck down at its darkest hour. Then properly follow expressions of public and private grief and condolence ; and so the whole has been quietly and unaffectedly said of facts and traits which make the reader exult to be of the same race and country with men like Wilder Dwight.