Benteen is prompted to reflect on his life, especially the days leading up to the battle, after he receives a letter from a young man.
What I found moving about The Lost Thoughts of Soldiers is how human the characters are. As Benteen eulogizes his men, his friends, the reader is allowed a glimpse into the inner circle. Circumstances, technology, even tactics change over time, but men at war do not.
Benteen has to deal with the reality that he lived while so many of his friends did not. He thinks, " It is a myth that we prove ourselves in war; we test ourselves in silence."
How many men and women must test themselves today, in the silence?
Benteen writes to the young man:
"If you truly wish to understand the battle and my place in it, you must understand the dreams and jokes and stories that we bore within us. You must see how, as we shared them, they formed a kind of landscape."
How true. And what landscapes are being formed in the mountain and desert battlefields of today?