Study Guide

Tom Creighton in Across Five Aprils

By Irene Hunt

Tom Creighton

We've got a fighter on our hands in Tom Creighton who, along with Eb, is more than eager to sign up for the army. But he is in for quite a surprise when he finds out that war is actually horrible. Tom's first real taste of battle is at Donelson, where he sees soldiers freezing to death, and when he finally manages to write home to let everyone know that he's still alive (for now…) he makes sure to include a note to Jethro saying, "that bein a soljer aint so much" (4.26). We had a hunch, Tom…

With so many people in the war, someone is bound to bite the dust, and when it comes to the Creighton clan, Tom draws the short straw on that one. His demise comes at Pittsburg Landing. You'd think that would be the last we heard of him, but Ross Milton turns Tom into a war hero in his open letter published in the paper and Eb later tells Jethro how he lost all reason to stay strong after Tom died. And when John bumps into Bill on the battlefront, he breaks the news to him.

Tom is an example of how a single person can be a common thread throughout many different people as we see his death impact a broad pool of people. Now multiply that by the thousands upon thousands who died in the Civil War and we get a small glimpse into the collective misery of the 1860s.