Old Enough to Die, by Ridley Wills II, Hillsboro Press, Franklin, Tenn., 1996, $24.95.
For a state that saw thousands of its sons fight on both sides of the Civil War, diaries and memoirs from Tennessee soldiers aren’t very numerous. This collection of letters from the Bostick family of Williamson County generously adds to that relatively scarce number.
Ridley Wills II states in his preface that his avocation for most of his life has been genealogy. And his skills as a genealogist are evident in his well-done end notes regarding personal and place names.
The real focus of the book is the letters of the four Bostick brothers serving in the 7th and 20th Tennessee regiments. As a collection, they are remarkably literate, due to the fact that all four were college graduates and professionals (two were lawyers, one a doctor, and one a teacher).
With the exception of a couple of excellent letters during the Atlanta campaign, there is almost no battle content to the letters.Instead, the letters focus on the primary concerns of soldiers from every era: life back home, and life in camp. Other than their literacy, these letters aren’t terribly different from those found in many other collections. But if you’re heavily into the Atlanta campaign or a collector of Tennessee books, Old Enough To Die is worth a read.
B. Keith Toney