Sunday, September 14, 2008

Rifles For Watie Book Report

Written by the Science Guy, 14.

Book: Rifles for Watie, by Harold Keith

Published 1957 by Harper Collins, Newberry Award Winner

Rifles for Watie is the story about Jeff Bussey, a young man from Kansas and his life during the Civil War.  It tells how he joins the army and struggles against the enemy, hunger, fear, cruel officers, utter exhaustion, and his deep feelings for family, friends, and the people he has come to know throughout his journey, on both sides of the war.

After an attack on his house in which his father was almost killed, Jeff becomes determined to aid the war effort.  He quickly leaves and joins up with the Union Army, but is unfortunately put under the cruel and tyrannical command of Captain Asa Clardy.  After trekking hundreds of miles by day and night his regiment finally meets the enemy and gets their first taste of battle.  Much to Jeffs dissappoinment he is sent off to find an officer somewhere back in the ranks and misses out on his share of the battle.  Later, as he rushes to meet the returning soldiers, he finds that many of his friends have been shot to death and many others are horribly injured.

Over the next couple of years his regiment marches hundreds of miles more and fights battles.  Also Jeff gets to know what it is like to be a soldier in the infantry, a gunner in a battery of artillery, a trooper in the calvalry, and eventually a scout who is sent to spy behind enemy lines.

During his first mission he becomes lost and is accidentally drafted into the Rebel Army.  He is warmly cared for by the Rebels and finds that they are not monsters but loving people who are fighting for what they believe in.  Jeff makes many close friends in the Rebel Army and in the South.  He eventually discovers a secret plot against the Union Army.  Should he return to the Union?  Jeff is from the Union, the Union told him that these, his Rebel friends, are the enemy.  But the Rebels have loved him whereas the officers in the Union starved him and treated him harsh and unkindly.  Jeff struggles as his heart is torn between the two sides.

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