Great-Grandfather’s Book Reissued
The book about my great-grandfather, From that Terrible Field, has been reissued by the University of Alabama Press. Please run out and buy a copy. Here is an announcement by the author, John Folmar, my old high school history teacher.


January 25, 2011


California, PA—For the third time in 30 years, a publication edited by Dr. John Kent Folmar I of California, PA, has been released this month by the University of Alabama Press. The first hardbound edition of “From That Terrible Field: Civil War Letters of James M. Williams, Twenty-first Alabama Infantry Volunteers” was published in 1981. Williams was the field commander of the 21st at time of surrender at the end of the Civil War.

The author of these letters, as reviewed in the Journal of Southern History, was born in Ohio, moved to Augusta, Georgia, where he married Eliza Rennison and moved to Mobile in late 1860 on the eve of the Civil War. When the fighting started Williams quickly decided to support the Confederate cause and enlisted in the 21st Alabama Infantry Volunteers.

From his enlistment in 1861 to the final days of the war, Williams wrote regularly to his wife. The correspondence chronicles the daily life of a literate Johnny Reb and his rise from private soldier to lieutenant colonel. Especially noteworthy are his accounts of the battle of Shiloh and his long stay in service with the Mobile garrison.

“Naturally I’m pleased that the Press has chosen to reprint the book in softbound cover this year,” says Folmar. “My interest in the letters was immediate when a former student, James Williams Chamberlin, University Military School in Mobile, asked me if I would like to see his great-grandfather’s Civil War letters. I expected to see a few letters written in the usual genre, but was surprised to find over two hundred letters written by a literate, artistic, observant, and fascinating ‘northern rebel.’ After researching and identifying people, ships and military locations, I edited the work for publication by the Press.”

Folmar, Professor Emeritus of History, California University of Pennsylvania, graduated from the University of Alabama with a PHD in U.S. History. A life-long student of local history, he has authored several books, including Drifting Back in Time: Historical Sketches of Washington and Fayette Counties, Pennsylvania, including the Monongahela River Valley, a compilation of historical sketches written by Folmar and published in Southwestern Pennsylvania newspapers; Gleanings from Pittsburgh & W. Pa.: Newspaper &c, Views: 1786-1886, selections from Western Pennsylvania newspapers about local history; and California, Pa., 1849-1881:The History of a Boat Building Town, a history of the Southwestern Pennsylvania university town where Folmar has resided over the past 40 years. Last year he reprinted an 1892 publication about the Centennial Anniversary of the Founding of Monongahela City, Pennsylvania. Folmar is president of the Monongahela River Buffs Association and edits its publication The Voice of the Mon.
The first two editions of From That Terrible Field were hardbound. The recently released softbound edition has a newly designed soft cover and retails for $24.95. For additional information, contact Dr. J. K. Folmar I, phone 724-938-7856, or e-mail Orders can be placed through University of Alabama Press, phone (205) 348-5180, or visit

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