Study Guide

Across Five Aprils Chapter 11

By Irene Hunt

Chapter 11

  • Nancy finally receives a nice long letter from John in December.
  • He assumes she knows all about Chickamauga—which she does because it happened six months prior.
  • This battle was a blow to the Union army after the victories at Vicksburg and Gettysburg.
  • Now John's letter goes on to tell, in intricate details, what happened in battle.
  • For Jethro, it makes him feel like he's there.
  • John breaks down Grant's battle strategies and tells of the moments leading up to the charge of the battle.
  • Jethro makes a copy of John's letter to send to Jenny and Shad, in addition to describing the battle details to John's kids.
  • Talk of peace starts popping up in the winter, and in December Lincoln promises to give a free pass to Confederates "who would swear to protect the Constitution and the Union of the states, to abide by the government's pronouncements against slavery" (11.24).
  • Matt loves the President's decision but there are loads of people in the North and South who don't.
  • Shad writes to Jethro about how he and Jenny actually saw Lincoln and Grant when they visited Washington.
  • 1864 brings about exciting presidential election buzz and it seems like there's a lot of hatred for Lincoln.
  • People are tired of the war and want a winner to be crowned, but instead the summer brings yet another battle that makes Confederate Lee look good.
  • What the Union needs to clinch this war is to get their hands on Petersburg.
  • But they don't.
  • Lincoln does, however, get the nomination for president and his opponent ends up being ol' General McClellan.
  • Shad writes a letter to Jethro expressing his response.
  • Apparently Shadrach's had a little change of heart toward McClellan because he is excited for the nomination.
  • McClellan's running platform includes not "offer[ing] peace on any terms short of the reestablishment of the Union" (11.48)—so we know where Shad stands on that one.
  • But by November things are looking way up for the North and voters ends up reelecting Lincoln.
  • Shortly afterward, a couple battles pop up in Tennessee. And John has a lot to write home about.
  • His first note gives a quick weather run-down and includes some praise for General Thomas.
  • But the second note—oh, the second—that's where things get interesting.
  • While feeding some rebel prisoners, John sees someone that looks like Matt.
  • Could it be? Is it he? Why yes, yes it is. It's Bill.
  • And get some tissues because things are about to get super emotional all up in John's letter.
  • So when John first sees Bill he stops like a deer in headlights; then, on the sly, he tells Bill that he'll try to come back.
  • John goes to his captain and asks if he could talk to one of the rebel prisoners since they're real live blood brothers.
  • He gets the go-ahead and goes back to find Bill.
  • And despite their environment John writes, "we was brothers agin and we talked like brothers ought to talk" (11.63).
  • John updates Bill on their family and everything he can remember from Jethro's letters.
  • Eventually it comes time for John to leave but before he does, Bill asks that John relay a very important message back to Ellen: "he was not at Pittsburg Landing. That bullet was not fired by him…" (11.64). Phew.

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