Echoes from the Battlefield, by Barbara Lane

Reviewed by Wade P. Bettis, Jr., J.D.
In JRT Issue 14, 1996


Lane, a clinical hypnotherapist, tells of her experiences in visiting American Civil War reenactment battlefields and camps. Her interest was stimulated by the deep commitment of the men and women who reenact these battles: “One Confederate reenactor…said he was fighting for state’s rights and that the Supreme Court had never ruled on the right to secede from the Union. I was impressed by the level of his historical knowledge…Beyond his words, however, his fervor swept over me like a wave. He was clearly impassioned about what he was doing.”

By their own admission, many of the reenactors are obsessed with their roles as Civil War soldiers. It was this emotional involvement that piqued Lane’s interest as she sought out volunteers to explore their past lives with the help of hypnosis. The book is about eleven men and one woman volunteer, all Civil War reenactors, who relive with accurate clarity their past lives as Civil War soldiers. We visit first hand, through the eyes of these people, their lives and experiences as they participated in the greatest internal conflict that this nation has ever experienced.

One reenactor discovered that he was his own great-grandfather who lost an arm in a Civil War battle. Prior to the regressions, this man had researched his great-grandfather’s life. He said that upon visiting the battlefield on which his great-grandfather had been wounded he had had a “strong gut feeling that the battlefield looked familiar. The same déjà vu feeling would sweep over this man every time he looked at pictures he had taken of the battle site. Episodes of emotional waves that flooded Dave at various battle sites had opened him up to the possibility of reincarnation.”

It is from individuals like this that Lane gleans astoundingly accurate information about this historic period, with detailed descriptions of battles, camp life, prisons, politics, emotions and the soldiers’ own deaths, and how those past lives are now affecting and interwoven with the patterns of their present lives.

Lane also sought out the records of the lives that are relived in hypnosis. She visited cemeteries, battlefields, historians, archives and libraries to link her Civil War soldiers to their present lives. What she found was that the historical information of the sessions, even some details that contradicted the reenactor’s preconceived ideas, turned out to be accurate.

This book tells us a lot about the Civil War period. But more importantly it tells us something about all of us: That we can choose to live our lives consciously or unconsciously, we can understand the patterns and forces that shape our present lives, or we can continue to repeat old lessons until they are made perfect. From Civil War battlefield to Twentieth Century corporate office the dramas of conflict and interpersonal relationships remain the same. We as the actors are the same; what is different are the props and the stage setting. We, however, have the possibility to change the scripts and to make different choices today that will be more harmonious and loving.