This past summer, Dr. James Hedtke published his second book, “Ordinary Men of Valor.” Hedtke is a professor and chair of the history and political science department here at Cabrini College. The book honors the “ordinary” soldiers of the Civil War. The soldiers that he honors are from his home county, Genesee County, in New York.
“Ordinary Men of Valor” focuses more on the trails, tribulations and triumphs of the ordinary soldier. There were more than two million “ordinary” soldiers who fought in the Civil War. According the Hedtke, these soldiers have not gotten the praise and glory to what they deserve.
This book follows around two principal soldiers, Emory Upton and Ely Parker. They were both from Hedtke’s home county. The book follows him through his childhood, through the Civil War to his very unfortunate suicide. The story of Parker, a Chesapeake Indian, was also told in his book. Hedtke wanted to honor Parker because of the simple fact that he put his life on the line for America when he himself was not an American citizen yet.
This is not the first book Hedtke has published. The first was “Lame Duck Presidents Myth or Reality.” This book challenged the presidents and the system at the time. Hedtke is proud of his work in this book. However, “It’s not as much as a labor of love as the new book is,” Hedtke said.
His decision on writing this book came to him through his wife in 2002. They were at Hedtke’s 35th high school reunion. While visiting, they went to a museum, where many Civil War tributes were. Hedtke told his wife many different facts about it and his home county. Then his wife gave him the idea to write a book about it. After thinking about it for a while and being encouraged by a number of others, he decided to go through with it.
Hedtke gathered his information and people for about a year. Then he finally sat down and wrote the book. The writing process took him about another year.
Hedtke’s newly published book has much meaning to him. He feels as if it is his duty to tell the story of these “normal” soldiers. He wanted to tell the story of their sacrifices and decisions made to save their union. “Why not these guys? They put their lives on the line too.” Hedtke said.
Hedtke is very proud and honored to be able to write a book on these men. He wanted to write this story for all the people’s families who haven’t gotten the chance to tell their story. “I hope the Civil War scholars and buffs find a place in this book, and I also hope it finds its way into the houses where I’m from and many ‘normal’ soldiers were from,” Hedtke said.