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"I saw a shadow move up ahead and thought about stopping to fire, when I remembered those shadows coming at us at Gettysburg and thought better of it. I did not want to cause the Lt. any more trouble. So I ran at it, musket lowered now and my bayonet aimed at its center—its stomach—and let out a howling scream that startled even me."
James Pease[2]

The Journal of James Edmond Pease, a Civil War Union Soldier is a historical fiction book written by Jim Murphy It is the second book in the My Name Is America series. It was published in September 1998 by Scholastic. In September 2012, the book was republished as On Enemy Soil with new cover art.

The book chronicles the life of James Pease, a Union Army soldier during the American Civil War.


"To Diane Hess — with appreciation and love"

Book description[]

"4 o'clock
The Rebs was still firing on us and the hissing of lead was all around. Just then the new man went down in a heap ahead of me. That ball was meant for me, I thought, which made me madder still, and then I realized he had just gotten his bayonet snagged on some vines and tripped over his own clumsy feet. But that didn't make me any less mad at the Rebs. I leaped over the new man and a second later I was right next to the Lt. and heading into the smoke of a recently fired Reb gun.

""Don't move, I told myself. Don't even breathe hard."
After living on his own for many months, James Edmond Pease is desperate for a hot meal and a new pair of boots. So he enlists in the Union Army, joining the G Company of the 122nd Regiment, completely unprepared for the bitter realities of military life during the Civil War. When his lieutenant assigns him to be the company historian, it's a job James doesn't want. As crude and bloody battles with the Confederates drag on, it's hard to find the stomach to record the horrors he sees each day. But slowly, he begins to understand the importance of telling the 122nd's story as they fight to reunify a war-torn country. Then James is separated from his comrades, lost behind enemy lines, Fighting for his life, James has to his way north to safety, where he hopes to find his unit—a dangerous journey for a lone Union soldier in the South. Through his journal entries, James poignantly recounts the terror of battle, the drudgery of day-to-day life in the infantry, the loss of friends, and the disillusionment of a young soldier.


James Pease, a Private in G Company of the 122nd Regiment in the Union Army, is assigned to write the company journal by Lt. Toms, his commanding officer. Hesitant at first, James soon records faithfully his harsh daily life and the history of his company. During a skirmish, James charges at the enemy, not knowing that they were retreating. This single action soon earns him respect within his company as well as a promotion to Corporal.

The army spends the winter in Brandy Station, Virginia. That Christmas, James begins receiving letters from Sarah Henderson, the sister of his best friend, Johnny Henderson, a fellow member of G Company. In January 1864, James is further promoted to Sergeant, which comes with new authority and responsibilities. As winter draws to a close, G Company partners with Major Pettit and prepare for a battle against the Confederate Army.

The troops march to Spotsylvania County to a part known as the "Old Wilderness". Suddenly on May 5, James finds himself in full-out battle with the Confederates, referred to as "Rebs" or Rebels. The following day, James is knocked unconscious and finds himself behind enemy lines. James slowly writes bits and pieces of the Battle of the Wilderness in his journal as he makes his way from hiding spot to hiding spot.

James stumbles through the woods and is spotted by a Southern woman, who quickly alerts her neighbors. He continues walking and meets a slave named Sally, who hides him in her shack. Later the next night, James escapes the plantation with Sally, her nephew Davie, and his family. James is able to reach a Union camp with their help. He learns where his company's whereabouts and abandons camp against orders to find them.


Historical Note[]


Main article: List of The Journal of James Edmond Pease characters


Main article: Jim Murphy

James "Jim" Murphy was an award-winning American author. He wrote over thirty-five books for all age ranges, focusing mainly on American history. Murphy penned two books, West to a Land of Plenty and My Face to the Wind, for Dear America. He also wrote The Journal of Brian Doyle for My Name Is America. In the "About the Author" section, Murphy wrote "that he never found the Civil War very interesting when he was in school." His interest was finally piqued after reading a journal by a soldier, Elisha Stockwell, Jr.. Murphy also read journals by Thomas Galway and Benjamin C. Rawlings to prepare for this book.



  • Books for You: An Annotated Booklist for Senior High (2001)[5]


  • The portrait on the cover of the first edition is a detail from Winslow Homer's 1864 drawing Young Soldier: Separate Study of a Soldier Giving Water to a Wounded Companion. The background is a detail from Peter F. Rothermel's 1866 painting Battle of Gettysburg: Pickett's Charge.[6][7][8]
  • Mike Heath illustrated the cover of the second edition, On Enemy Soil.


See also[]

External links[]