Best Little Ironies, Oddities, and Mysteries of the Civil War
is a collection of more than 100 stories of unusual and frequently surprising events that took place in connection with the Civil War. Organized by topics into seven sections, the stories include ironies that grew out of incidents that took place prior to the war, the unexpected consequences of events and the early days of the conflict, twists and turns of fate among soldiers, civilians and officers, and postwar happenings.
All of these stories are written from a journalistic history approach that looks for the "feature story" aspects in the war's events, including:
- William "Mudwall" Jackson, who - as a lawyer, judge, and lieutenant governor of Virginia - would have been far better known than his cousin "Stonewall" Jackson had war not broken out.
- The man in charge of quelling John Brown's uprising at Harpers Ferry in 1859, surprisingly none other than Robert E. Lee.
- Jeff Greenwold of Anoka, Minnesota, who was the first volunteer of the first regiment to organize to fight for the Union.
- Brig. Gen. Robert Gannett, who was the first general officer of either side to be killed in battle.
- An unnamed Union soldier who broke down in tears following the battle of Williamsburg at the sight of a dead Confederate soldier, then kissed his enemy - his brother.
- John Taylor Wood, whose grandfather had been president of the United States, whose father was a 36-year veteran in the Union army, but whose aunt was married to Confederate president Jefferson Davis.
- Frank Crawford Armstrong, who served in both the Confederate and Union armies.
- Union officer Orton Williams - raised by Robert E. Lee and his wife at Arlington house after Williams had been orphaned - who later informed Mary Lee that Federal troops would be coming to occupy her home the next day.