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Free Study Guide for Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt-Book Summary

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Nancy receives a long letter from her husband John, which describes in detail the situation at Chickamauga and the animosity between the armies led by Hooker, Sherman and Thomas. She shares the letter with Jethro who rewrites it and sends the copy to Shad and Jenny. He demonstrates to John’s sons how their father, with the Army of the Cumberland, broke through the Confederate line. In a subsequent letter, John shares that he is comforted by Jethro’s interest in the war and closeness to his little boys.

In November the President makes the Gettysburg Address. The papers are divided in their opinions of the President’s words. In December, Lincoln announces amnesty to any Confederate who will swear into the Union, and that Confederate states could rejoin the Union if ten percent of the voters in the state reestablished Union government. There is violent Confederate response to this proclamation and the President places Grant in command of all the U.S. Armies. Shadrach writes that he and Jenny had seen both the President and General Grant driving through Washington amid cheers.

Lincoln is nominated for reelection. Jethro and Ross Milton are strong supporters but the war-weary public is not. Shad writes that he, too, is “all for Mr. Lincoln”, but still cheers McClellan, Shad’s former commander, as the Democratic nominee. The war wages on with defeat and then victory for the Union, and Lincoln is reelected, most of the votes being from soldiers.

Meanwhile, General Sherman’s army seems to have disappeared. Then there are two battles near Nashville, and from there the family receives a letter from John. He writes of the battle then adds a second page telling how, while taking care of rebel prisoners, he sees his brother, Bill. The two talk as brothers, John telling Bill all the news from home. They part, reluctantly, and Bill calls John back insisting that John tell the family that Bill was not at Pittsburgh Landing. He did not fire the bullet that killed Tom.


This chapter uses John’s letters to mark the importance of family. Though his first hand accounts of battle are disturbing, his focus is always on home. He writes to his wife, Nancy, but includes information and sentiment for Jethro, his brother, and Ellen, his mother. The reunion of John and Bill allows for brotherhood among the “thousands of sad men”, as John recounts the events of family.

The power of the Presidency is also noted. Though public opinion wavers, Lincoln still gives noteworthy speeches, wins reelection, and inspires love and admiration, notably from Jethro, Shad, and Ross Milton.

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Across Five Aprils Study Guide-Free BookNotes Plot Summary

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Cassie, Donna L.. "TheBestNotes on Across Five Aprils". . 09 May 2017