In the spring of 1861, Ambrose Bierce, just shy of nineteen, became Private Bierce of the Ninth Indiana Volunteer Infantry. For the next four years, Bierce marched and fought throughout the western theater of the Civil War. Because of his searing wartime experience, Bierce became a key writer in the history of American literary realism. Scholars have long asserted that there are concrete connections between Bierce’s fiction and his service, but surprisingly no biographer has focused solely on Bierce’s formative Civil War career and made these connections clear.
Christopher K. Coleman uses Ambrose Bierce’s few autobiographical writings about the war and a deep analysis of his fiction to help readers see and feel the muddy, bloody world threatening Bierce and his fellow Civil War soldiers. Across the Tennessee River from the battle of Shiloh, Bierce, who could only hear the battle in the darkness writes, “The death-line was an arc of which the river was the chord.” Ambrose Bierce and the Period of Honorable Strife is a fascinating account of the movements of the Ninth Indiana Regimenta unit that saw as much action as any through the warand readers will come to know the men and leaders, the deaths and glories, of this group from its most insightful observer.
Using Bierce’s writings and a detective’s skill to provide a comprehensive view of Bierce’s wartime experience, Coleman creates a vivid portrait of a man and a war. Not simply a tale of one writer’s experience, this meticulously researched book traces the human costs of the Civil War. From small early skirmishes in western Virginia through the horrors of Shiloh to narrowly escaping death from a Confederate sniper’s bullet during the battle of Kennesaw Mountain, Bierce emerges as a writer forged in war, and Coleman’s gripping narrative is a genuine contribution to our understanding of the Western Theater and the development of a protean writer.
|Publisher:||University of Tennessee Press|
|Product dimensions:||6.20(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.90(d)|
About the Author
CHRISTOPHER K. COLEMAN has written extensively on American history and culture, as well as military history. Two of his five books currently in print are related to the Civil War: Ghosts and Haunts of the Civil War and The Paranormal Presidency of Abraham Lincoln.
Table of Contents
1 Green and Salad Days 11
2 Bad Boys Make Good Soldiers 25
3 On a Mountain 39
4 Unfamiliar Landscapes 51
5 What He Saw of Shiloh 63
6 Excursions and Alarums: Corinth, Owl Creek, and Perryville 79
7 Stones River 95
8 Sitzkrieg to Blitzkrieg 109
9 Chickamauga 121
10 Besieged 139
11 Lieb und Krieg 159
12 Crimes and Misdemeanors: The Atlanta Campaign 165
13 Casualties of War 177
14 What Happens: The Road to Franklin 187
15 A Son of the Gods: The Battle of Nashville and After 199
16 In High Cotton: Carpetbaggers, Confederates, and Corruption 211
17 Phantoms and Presentiments 219
Epilogue: The Difficulty of Crossing a Battlefield 227
Appendix I What Albert Bierce Saw: A Little Bit More of Chickamauga 231
Appendix II Major Bierce's Critique of Confederate Strategy 235
Appendix III Ambrose Bierce's Journal of the Carolinas Campaign 241
Selected Bibliography 279