Brian Craig Miller
Hell's Broke Loose in Georgia: Survival in a Civil War Regimentby Scott Walker
Darling, I never wanted to gow home as bad in my life as I doo now and if they don’t give mee a furlow I am going any how. Written in December 1862 by Private Wright Vinson in Tennessee to his wife, Christiana, in Georgia, these lines go to the heart of why Scott Walker wrote this history of the Fifty-seventh Georgia Infantry, a unit of the famed Mercer’… See more details below
Darling, I never wanted to gow home as bad in my life as I doo now and if they don’t give mee a furlow I am going any how. Written in December 1862 by Private Wright Vinson in Tennessee to his wife, Christiana, in Georgia, these lines go to the heart of why Scott Walker wrote this history of the Fifty-seventh Georgia Infantry, a unit of the famed Mercer’s Brigade.
All but a few members of the Fifty-seventh lived within a close radius of eighty miles from each other. More than just an account of their military engagements, this is a collective biography of a close-knit group. Relatives and neighbors served and died side by side in the Fifty-seventh, and Walker excels at showing how family ties, friendships, and other intimate dynamics played out in wartime settings. Humane but not sentimental, the history abounds in episodes of real feeling: a starving soldier’s theft of a pie; another’s open confession, in a letter to his wife, that he may desert; a slave’s travails as a camp orderly.
Drawing on memoirs and a trove of unpublished letters and diaries, Walker follows the soldiers of the Fifty-seventh as they push far into Unionist Kentucky, starve at the siege of Vicksburg, guard Union prisoners at the Andersonville stockade, defend Atlanta from Sherman, and more. Hardened fighters who would wish hell on an incompetent superior but break down at the sight of a dying Yankee, these are real people, as rarely seen in other Civil War histories.
Brian Craig Miller
“Civil War regimental histories are thick on the ground now, but Hell's Broke Loose in Georgia is a different sort of creature, a penetrating look at the inner world and lives of men who marched, ate, slept, fought, and died together. Not so much a unit history as a 'family' portrait of men bound by the war, Scott Walker's book offers a glimpse of the personality and inner world of almost all Civil War units, North and South alike. This is the part of regimental history that too many regimental historians overlook."William C. Davis, author of Look Away! and Jefferson Davis
"Amidst the fog enveloping the vast array of literature on the American Civil War, much of it mundane and redundant, emerges a real jewel of a book. For in Hell's Broke Loose in Georgia, author Scott Walker breaks free from the usual litany of battles, campaigns, and troop movements and serves up an engaging, tightly woven, account of what the participants felt during the campaigns, rather than how they fought." —Georgia Historical Quarterly
"A beautifully written narrative . . . Hell's Broke Loose in Georgia stands as a heartfelt recounting of one regiment's triumphs and traumas."Journal of American History
"Walker uses this disastrous defeat to criticize the Confederate high command, something he does with stylish effectiveness throughout the book as Southern forces in the West stagger from one debacle to another . . . But Hell’s Broke Loose in Georgia isn't unique because it points out the shortcomings of Hood, Braxton Bragg and Jefferson Davis. It's Walker's passion for his subject, combined with the remarkable correspondence from Confederates to their families, that gives this unit portrait such bold color."Savannah Morning News
"Diligent use of manuscript letters makes this [book] a sturdy soldiers’ chronicle ably set in Western Theater history."Blue and Gray
"Walker’s book is both a labor of love and an excellent insight into the true nature of military life during the Civil War."North & South
“This book is not about glorious victory or honorable defeat; it is about the struggle of men to hold on to their humanity in war’s fiery furnace of inhumanity. This is a book about hell—hell with a few humorous anecdotes, hell with unexpected acts of kindness, but hell.”Southern Distinction
- University of Georgia Press
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