Trudeau, a prize-winning Civil War historian (Gettysburg), addresses William T. Shermana's "march to the sea" in the autumn of 1864. Shermana's inclusion of civilian and commercial property on the list of military objectives was not a harbinger of total war, says Trudeau. Rather, its purpose was to demonstrate to the Confederacy that there was no place in the South safe from Union troops. The actual levels of destruction and pillage were limited even by Civil War standards, Trudeau says; they only seemed shocking to Georgians previously spared "a home invasion on a grand scale." Confederate resistance was limited as well. Trudeau praises Shermana's generalship, always better at operational than tactical levels. He presents the inner dynamics of one of the finest armies the U.S. has ever fielded: veteran troops from Massachusetts to Minnesota, under proven officers, consistently able to make the difficult seem routine. And Trudeau acknowledges the often-overlooked contributions of the slaves who provided their liberators invaluable information and labor. The march to the sea was in many ways "the day of jubilo," and in Trudeau it has found its Xenophon. 16 pages of b&w photos, 36 maps. (Aug.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Southern Stormby Noah Andre Trudeau
Award-winning Civil War historian Noah Andre Trudeau has written a gripping, definitive new account that will stand as the last word on General William Tecumseh Sherman's epic march—a targeted strategy aimed to break not only the Confederate army but an entire society as well. With Lincoln's hard-fought reelection victory in hand, Ulysses S. Grant, commander… See more details below
Award-winning Civil War historian Noah Andre Trudeau has written a gripping, definitive new account that will stand as the last word on General William Tecumseh Sherman's epic march—a targeted strategy aimed to break not only the Confederate army but an entire society as well. With Lincoln's hard-fought reelection victory in hand, Ulysses S. Grant, commander of the Union forces, allowed Sherman to lead the largest and riskiest operation of the war. In rich detail, Trudeau explains why General Sherman's name is still anathema below the Mason-Dixon Line, especially in Georgia, where he is remembered as "the one who marched to the sea with death and devastation in his wake."
Sherman's swath of destruction spanned more than sixty miles in width and virtually cut the South in two, badly disabling the flow of supplies to the Confederate army. He led more than 60,000 Union troops to blaze a path from Atlanta to Savannah, ordering his men to burn crops, kill livestock, and decimate everything that fed the Rebel war machine. Grant and Sherman's gamble worked, and the march managed to crush a critical part of the Confederacy and increase the pressure on General Lee, who was already under siege in Virginia.
Told through the intimate and engrossing diaries and letters of Sherman's soldiers and the civilians who suffered in their path, Southern Storm paints a vivid picture of an event that would forever change the course of America.
These two studies perfectly complement each other. Trudeau (former executive producer, NPR: Gettysburg: A Testing of Courage) has written a sprawling and mesmerizing account of "the March" that reminds the reader that General Sherman had no intention of waging a "total war" against Confederate Georgia but instead hoped to make any continuance of the rebellion within its borders so unpalatable to its populace that the state government would regard a return to the Union as the lesser of two evils. Sherman's ultimate decision to selectively destroy civilian property stemmed from his belief that the South bore collective responsibility for its treasonous actions and his determination to show Georgians that neither their property nor their livelihoods could be protected by Confederate president Jefferson Davis or his Richmond authorities. The greatest blot on Sherman's record during the March centered on his treatment of the newly freed bondsmen, whom he denounced as impedimenta. As a result, Sherman, known for his racist views, had no compunction about abandoning these runaways at every opportunity. Trudeau concludes that even if the rebels were not hampered by outmoded defensive schemes and dithering regional commanders in Georgia, they could not have stopped Sherman, whose men were too experienced to be denied.Caudill and Ashdown (both journalism & electronic media, Univ. of Tennessee; coauthors, The Myth of Nathan Bedford Forrest) take a different approach, examining the myths surrounding Sherman and his March (both books capitalize the word), myths going back to the time of the March itself. The authors see the March as great drama, with Sherman providentially cast asits leader, regardless of whether future generations accepted that script. As the pageant migrated from the headlines to literature, film, and theater, popular culture embraced the story, thus leading to its universal acceptance in American society. Even so, Caudill and Ashdown contend, readers debating the significance of Sherman's extraordinary undertaking can grudgingly acknowledge opposing interpretations. In the end, the authors solicit our assent that the act of summoning forth Sherman's memory has become tantamount to invoking one's own values: The March, like the Confederate flag, "has become shorthand for a complex set of values, perspectives, and traditions." Both major contributions to Civil War historiography, these two books cannot be overlooked. Recommended for all history collections-Civil War, social, or intellectual-in all libraries.
John Carver Edwards
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Meet the Author
Noah Andre Trudeau is the author of Gettysburg. He has won the Civil War Round Table of New York's Fletcher Pratt Award and the Jerry Coffey Memorial Prize. A former executive producer at National Public Radio, he lives in Washington, D.C.
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