Having done poorly in college, Leo Tolstoy volunteered for the Russian army and was a "junker" in an artillery unit. I'm not entirely sure what a junker is - possibly an officer candidate in training. The book contains 36 short stories relating to his service in the Crimean War. After that was settled, his unit was sent into the Caucasus to fight "Chechen bandits". This was in the 1850s.
What I liked best about the book was the author's ability to describe a scene so well, the reader can well imagine being there. For one small example, he speaks of an infantry unit being assigned into the forest to cut wood. Tolstoy went along with a few pieces of artillery that covered the infantry while they worked.
Right away, soldiers brought the artillerymen plenty of wood from which a fire was built. He describes how a Cossack sat on a log, warming himself while smoking his pipe. His description is so complete, I felt I could almost smell the tobacco smoke.
It's also a good description of Russian military life in those times. The book is available online from a number of vendors, and any good-sized library is likely to have a copy.
I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in military history.
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Book Tales of Courage and Conflict
- Lev Tolstoy