Michael K. Shaffer will share his research on the life of Thomas Wallace Colley, a Civil War veteran, providing our Roundtable audience with a look at his newest book, “In Memory of Self and Comrades: Thomas Wallace Colley’s Recollection of Civil War Service in the 1st Virginia Cavalry.” Shaffer is a historian, teacher and author who now resides in Georgia. He teaches at Kennesaw State University’s College of Continuing and Professional Education.
Thomas Wallace Colley witnessed Civil War action on the field as a Confederate soldier in the 1st Virginia Cavalry. He experienced the loss of comrades and the loss of his foot blown away in battle. A war amputee, Colley would remove his prosthetic foot for pictures as a badge of honor. His amputation was an experimental success as surgeons tried out a new way of amputation. “Colley’s religious beliefs along with a very supportive family probably saved him,” said Shaffer. “Because there’s no question he was definitely suffering from what we now know as PTSD.” Colley contributed the land, money out of pocket, timber and building materials towards a church, post-war. He later became a member of the church and superintendent of its Sunday school.
“There are many arms and legs to history,” said Shaffer. “Colley writes about the social, the political, the economic issues that were going on. And medical issues — hospital conditions and so forth. I think there’s something in the book for most anyone, regardless of where their interest might lie. If they love military history, there’s plenty in the book about that.” One of the striking moment’s in Shaffer’s book is a picture of Colley and his two boys. In the photograph Colley is standing next to two fresh faces in uniform, gearing up to go fight for a united country in World War I.