The award-winning Civil War play, “Soldier, Come Home,” has just been launched online by the Samuel French Play Publishing Company as part of its exciting new program, Playwright Direct. Author Frank W. Wicks’ play is now available online free of charge and may be downloaded worldwide.0049038_soldier_come_home_300-1

Playwright Direct allows playwrights to be discovered through the Samuel French website. After receiving a free copy, customers may license the script and present a production of the play. Samuel French handles the rest. Since 1830, Samuel French has been the leading publisher and licensor of theatrical works.

“We are constantly looking for innovative ways to get new work into the hands of theatre lovers,” says a Samuel French spokesperson. “We realize there are a great number of playwrights looking to promote their original works, so we created a platform that allows

Historic Wicks family Civil War letters were the inspiration for Soldier, Come Home, which just celebrated its 100th performance..

Historic Wicks family Civil War letters were the inspiration for Soldier, Come Home, which just celebrated its 100th performance..

theaters and producers around the globe to discover new work easily.”

“Soldier, Come Home” was inspired by the letters of Frank W. Wicks’ great-grandparents, Philip and Mary Pringle, written during the period 1859 to 1865 from western Pennsylvania and from major Civil War battle sites, including Antietam, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Cold Harbor, the Siege of Petersburg, and Appomattox.

Discovered in a shoe box in the attic of the Wicks family home in South Fork, Pennsylvania, the letters provide a look back at some of the most significant battles of the Civil War as well as what life was like for those family members left behind.

Wicks, a founding member of the Long Wharf Theatre, a graduate of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, and a theater professional since 1958, transformed the letters into a play, weaving the story of his family through the events of the Civil War.

"Soldier, Come Home" at the Lyric Theatre, Loudon, TN, directed by Robert Harrison.

“Soldier, Come Home” at the Lyric Theatre, Loudon, TN. The production used over 75 historic Civil War photos downloaded from The Library of Congress.

The play is performed as reader’s theater by a cast of 5 playing 8 different characters, using mínimal sets, lights and costumes.

“The true magic of Frank Wicks’ play is in its simplicity. says Dr. Steven Brown, Kenosha, Wisconsin.“The letters become  the dialogue – conflict, humor and emotions completely take over the moment the play begins.”

An informal production of "Soldier, Come Home" in the garden of the Merida English Library, Merida, Yucatan, Mexico. Presenting the Prologue is author, Frank W. Wicks

An informal production of “Soldier, Come Home” in the garden of the Merida English Library, Merida, Yucatan, Mexico. Presenting the Prologue is author, Frank W. Wicks

For a free copy of “Soldier, Come Home,” log onto Playwright Direct Online and click the “Add to Cart” button on the top right. At check-out you will have the opportunity to print out the play. For groups or individuals interested in presenting a performance of the play, visit Samuel French Online.  Telephone is 1-866-598-8449 and  email is: info@samuelfrench.com. The author may be reached at frankwicks@gmail.com

Answer: Civil War Historian, John J. Pullen

“For people who have not heard the story of the fight at Little Round Top on the Gettysburg battlefield – and today there aren’t many of these among readers of Civil War literature – it should be stated that it was here, late on July 2, 1863, that Joshua L. Chamberlain arose from the clouds of gunsmoke into the light of fame….Some say that Joshua Chamberlain and the 20th Maine saved the day at Gettysburg and therefore saved the Union.”

And thus begins the John J. Pullen classic, The Twentieth Maine: A Volunteer Regiment in the Civil War, considered by Civil War historians to be one of the best regimental histories ever written.

According to The Los Angeles Times, Pullen’s 1957 book renewed interest in Union Army General Joshua Chamberlain. “The Twentieth Maine recounted Chamberlain’s heroism when he ordered the 20th Maine Regiment to fix bayonets and rout the Confederates during the Battle of Little Round Top – one of the most well-known actions at Gettysburg and in the American Civil War.”

On the final charge, knowing that his men were out of ammunition, that his numbers were being depleted, and further knowing that another charge could not be repulsed, Chamberlain ordered a maneuver that was considered unusual for the day: He ordered his left flank, which had been pulled back, to advance with bayonets. As soon as they were in line with the rest of the regiment, the remainder of the regiment charged, like a door swinging shut. This simultaneous frontal assault and flanking maneuver halted and captured a good portion of the 15th Alabama.

Praise for The Twentieth Maine poured in. The Boston Sunday Herald wrote, “this comes as near reliving the Civil War as anyone in the twentieth century is likely to get.”

Bruce Catton, Pulitzer Prize winner and Civil War historian said, “Mr. Pullen has gone to the letters, diaries, and memoirs of the participants with the thoroughness and care of a good historian, and he has had the literary skill to let the personality of the regiment come through.”

Then in 1999, John Pullen published the definitive Chamberlain biography, Joshua Chamberlain: a Hero’s Life and Legacy.

A reviewer wrote, “Renowned historian John J. Pullen, who first introduced Joshua Chamberlain to modern readers, is again approaching the subject of this complex man. This new biographical essay explores Chamberlain’s place in history–both man and myth. John Pullen, who drew back the shroud of a forgotten hero in his excellent book “The Twentieth Maine,” has come full circle in this engaging and enlightening biography.”

Born in Amity, Maine, Pullen graduated from Colby College in 1935. A field artillery captain during World War II, he worked as a reporter for the Kennebec Journal in Augusta after the war. He later worked in advertising in Philadelphia before resigning in 1965 to move to Brunswick, Maine (where I happened to live) and focus on his writing.

I remember John Pullen as a celebrated, active contributer to the Brunswick community. He was a member of the Joshua Chamberlain Civil War Round Table and spearheaded fund-raising efforts to design, create and erect a statue of Joshua Chamberlain next to the Bowdoin College campus.

The year before he died, John Pullen attended the premiere of Soldier, Come Home in Brunswick. He wrote kindly of the play, “Excellent and unusual. It lets the audience feel the Civil War both on the field and on the home front where women and families experience its dramatic effects.”

I was so pleased that such a distinguished Civil War historian had witnessed my efforts at a Civil War story. I had rubbed shoulders with the man who had awakened interest in a forgotten hero, introducing Joshua Chamberlain to modern readers – and, without a doubt, putting Joshua Chamberlain on the map.

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