Skip to comments.Teen soldier's letters inspire teacher's Civil War book
Posted on 02/17/2004 5:37:58 AM PST by stainlessbanner
An English teacher in Garland stumbled onto a war tragedy that struck his family almost a century and a half ago.
Now that teacher, Buz Sawyers, has turned that personal story into a book to show his students the terrible human cost of America's Civil War.
Sawyers' great great uncle James Durrett was only 15 when he joined the Confederate Army in Alabama. Durrett fought in some of the great battles of the Civil War and survived them all, only to be killed by a Union sniper six days before the surrender.
Sawyers discovered letters written by Durrett, and found them so eloquent - so sad - he wove them into a novel about the war, entitled No Point in Dying Now.
"He talks about God quite a bit," he said. "The fact that such a well-educated compassionate Christian boy got killed senselessly at the end of the war when there was no point in having the battle at all ... it left me very empty."
Sawyers already had James, in gray. He created another young boy, in Yankee blue, to follow two teenagers caught up in a great American tragedy.
Durrett shared various vignettes, and wrote his parents about the capture of his older brother Tom.
"I know that if alive, a long and tedious captivity in exile from home and all that is dear to him awaits, but he can feel he has done his duty and that will sustain him in captivity, or in death if need be," Durrett wrote.
Sawyers will use his book to teach his English students at Garland's Classical Center at Brandenberg Middle School about the Civil War. Students in the broadcast magnet of Garland's Lakeview Centennial High School are making an audio version of the book.
Sawyers said the students' use of the book is rewarding, and he feels they'll relate to Durrett's stories.
"It's the view of the Civil War through the eyes of a teenager, so a lot of the kids who are going be reading this are close to the same age as he was," Sawyers said.