"Across Five Aprils," Vocabulary from Chapters 10-12 35 words

"Across Five Aprils" is Irene Hunt's novel about one family being torn apart by The Civil War. As the brothers in the family take opposing sides in the conflict, they wonder if they will ever be able to be a family again.

Learn this word list that focuses on the struggle for unity. Here are links to all our lists for the novel: Chapters 1-2, Chapters 3-4, Chapters 5-6, Chapters 7-9, Chapters 10-12
  1. verify
    confirm the truth of
    The stories were never verified, but they occurred often enough to arouse deep anger in the minds of people whose sons had died under Grant’s command.
  2. incoherent
    without logical or meaningful connection
    The news of the battle was confused at first, incoherent, sometimes contradictory, but one thing was certain: here was a clash that roared with a violence and terror such as the country had never known.
  3. prominent
    conspicuous in position or importance
    Other names prominent in that battle were, true to the temper of the times, disgraced and dragged through the mud.
  4. complicity
    guilt as an accomplice in a crime or offense
    Rosecrans, McCook, and Crittenden, who in the bewildering mountain terrain had completely lost control of the men they were supposed to command, were now accused of everything from downright stupidity to traitorous complicity with the enemy.
  5. jubilation
    a feeling of extreme joy
    After the hope and jubilation that Vicksburg and Gettysburg had inspired in July, Chickamauga was a dreadful reversal for the North to suffer; for Nancy it was a name threatening her with “hard news” until the day John’s letter came.
  6. vindictiveness
    a malevolent desire for revenge
    But they did hold on, and as the war trailed drearily on, vindictiveness toward the stubborn stand of the seceding states grew steadily more bitter in the North.
  7. clemency
    leniency and compassion shown toward offenders by a person or agency charged with administering justice
    This vindictiveness was urged on by men in high places who resented the President’s spirit of clemency as violently as they resented the tenacity of the South.
  8. amnesty
    a warrant granting release from punishment for an offense
    In December Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation of amnesty, in which he promised pardon and full rights to any individual Confederate who would swear to protect the Constitution and the Union of the states, to abide by the government’s pronouncements against slavery.
  9. reestablish
    bring back into original existence, use, function, or position
    He promised, too, that a Confederate state could return to the Union whenever ten percent of its voters should reestablish a loyal Union government within that state.
  10. degradation
    a low or downcast state
    In the South the Confederate Congress cried out that if the Washington government called for restoration of the Union it was merely setting a cruel trap for the deluded; that it would be only a relationship between the conqueror and the conquered; that it would mean personal and public degradation and ruin.
  11. detractor
    one who disparages or belittles the worth of something
    The author is not one of the President's detractors--this is suggested in the structure of the example sentence, where 1) the disparaging point is put in the perspective of the detractors within the novel and 2) the use of the phrase "high patriotism" mockingly echoes the more common phrase "high treason".
    His proclamation of amnesty was little better than treason, the President’s detractors shouted, and many people began to consider it high patriotism to talk of the coming wholesale execution of rebels.
  12. relegate
    assign to a lower position; reduce in rank
    With this promotion another general fell to a lower place—General Halleck, who had never quite risen to his position, was finally relegated to the list of those whose names had soared for a while and then fallen into near-obscurity.
  13. invective
    abusive or venomous language used to express blame or censure or bitter deep-seated ill will
    Jethro had been barely conscious of the excitement, anger, and vicious invective that had accompanied the election of 1860; now he was fully conscious of emotions of even deeper violence in the talk of men in the community and in the papers that he read.
  14. contempt
    open disrespect for a person or thing
    Thad Stevens, the aging floor leader in the House of Representatives, pushed his program of “no mercy to the South” and let his contempt for the President spill out in every speech he made.
  15. tenacity
    persistent determination
    He gave his opponent no quarter, and the stubborn tenacity with which he held on in the face of Lee’s punishment was something the soldiers of the Army of the Potomac had never seen in their idolized General McClellan.
  16. dissolution
    separation into component parts
    If the price of peace was the dissolution of the Union, many people felt that compensation lay in stopping human slaughter.
  17. advocate
    a person who pleads for a cause or propounds an idea
    Today as I read General McClellan’s response to the Democratic Committee, so set to elect him as an advocate of their peace platform, I thought that I must write to you and point out a quality of courage in this man that I wouldn’t have believed to be there.
  18. affront
    a deliberately offensive act or something producing the effect of deliberate disrespect
    "Insult" and "affront" can be interchangeable synonyms; to use both here seems like unnecessary repetition, but it serves to 1) emphasize the general's position and 2) give more power to the speech with shades of meaning (e.g. an insult is often seen as verbal while an affront can be more physical).
    The article quoted the general as saying that as far as he was concerned, the party’s platform meant that the North was not to offer peace on any terms short of the reestablishment of the Union, that to accept anything else would be an insult and an affront to the thousands of soldiers who had died in battle.
  19. paean
    (ancient Greece) a hymn of praise (especially one sung in ancient Greece to invoke or thank a deity)
    “Atlanta is ours and fairly won,” was Sherman’s message to Mr. Lincoln, and that, coupled with the news from Mobile, sent the North into paeans of thanksgiving.
  20. preponderance
    a superiority in numbers or amount
    The preponderance of the soldier vote was for Lincoln that year.
  21. accord
    harmony of people's opinions or actions or characters
    The news of that vote was heartwarming to the tired President; so, too, was the fact that all the Northern states except Kentucky, Delaware, and New Jersey were of one accord with the soldier vote.
  22. intact
    undamaged in any way
    Out in the Midwest the railroads were intact and carried the farmers’ grain and stock to market; trade was good, and prices high.
  23. atrocity
    an act of atrocious cruelty
    The role of this state in bringing on the war served as a “just” excuse for atrocities that no thoughtful man could excuse.
  24. throes
    violent pangs of suffering
    In Virginia more soldiers died each day in Grant’s army and in Lee’s because the South, even in its death throes, would not admit defeat, and the tragedy of these deaths was even greater when the hopes of homecoming and peace were just within realization.
  25. distort
    affect as in thought or feeling
    In the same speech, Ross Milton says: “This is a land lying in destruction, physical and spiritual." In the example sentence, the use of the word "distorted" connects to the spiritual thirst for revenge that could make one go crazy. But the definition of "distort" as "twist and press out of shape" can also be applied to the earlier descriptions of old scars, twisted railroads, and burned cities--this could suggest that physical distortion leads to spiritual distortion.
    But the hate that burns in old scars, and the thirst for revenge that has distorted men until they should be in straitjackets rather than in high office—these are the things that may make peace a sorry thing...
  26. imminence
    the state of being imminent and liable to happen soon
    Still, peace would mean a glorious sense of relief; in all his years Jethro had heard either the talk of war’s imminence or its reality.
  27. mockery
    humorous or satirical mimicry
    He has four years before him and the power of a mighty office; if he can control the bigots, if he can allow the defeated their dignity and a chance to rise out of their despair—if he can do this, then maybe peace will not be a mockery.”
  28. servitude
    state of subjection to an owner or master or forced labor imposed as punishment
    What will become of men and women who have known nothing but servitude all the days of their lives?
  29. exploiter
    a person who uses something or someone selfishly or unethically
    They are without experience, without education; they’ll be pawns in the hands of exploiters all over the nation.
  30. clamor
    loud and persistent outcry from many people
    The definition seems to suggest that the people are angry, but their clamor is actually in celebration of the news that the terms of peace had been signed. So happy are the people and so hopeful are they about the Union's reestablishment that they even let the criminals they had jailed join in the noisy celebration (which included a cannon booming and drunken singing).
    They had lifted the trapdoor in the roof of the jail, allowing the half-dozen delinquent citizens of the county to climb outside so their voices might add to the clamor.
  31. serenity
    the absence of mental stress or anxiety
    But there was no longer any beauty in the world about him or any serenity in his heart.
  32. wrath
    belligerence aroused by a real or supposed wrong (personified as one of the deadly sins)
    Little by little the story came through—details of the assassination, the attempted murder of the Secretary of State, the nation’s wrath and woe.
  33. humility
    a humble feeling
    One accepted the good or the evil with humility, for life was a mystery, and questions were not for the lowly.
  34. irreparable
    impossible to repair, rectify, or amend
    Abraham Lincoln had been senselessly slain by the hand of a madman, and Jethro Creighton, with all the people of his time, had suffered an irreparable loss.
  35. assuage
    provide physical relief, as from pain
    He had not embraced one of his brothers since the days of his very early childhood, but that morning he put his arms about Shadrach, and slowly the joy for the living assuaged a little the grief for the dead.