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CW - 150
The Civil War 150th Anniversary
Interesting facts, links, and suggested books for each month of the Civil War.
This Month's Events
- During this month Sherman's "Bummers" destroy everything possible in Georgia as he tries to demonstrate that continued resistance is not worth it. In a speech after the war to a class at the Michigan Military Academy Sherman told his audience, "There is many a boy here to-day who looks on war as all glory, but, boys, it is all hell. You can bear this warning voice to generations to come. I look upon war with horror."
- 7-27 December. The Union launches a combined land-sea attack on Fort Fisher which defends the approaches to Wilmington, North Carolina. General Lee sends General Robert Hoke and his division to lead the defense. On the day before Christmas the Union fleet arrives to begin bombardment of the fort. However the Union attack fails. [See next month.]
- 15-16 December. In Tennessee Confederate General John Bell Hood with 31,000 men waits outside Nashville, held by General George H. Thomas and 55,000 troops: Hood hopes to lure Thomas into an attack outside the city. Thomas finally attacks on the 15th and the Confederates are pushed back onto a new line. In the morning another Federal attack forces Hood to retreat, having lost about half of his men.
- 21 December. Sherman's march to the sea concludes with the capture of Savannah. Sherman telegraphs Lincoln, "I beg to present you as a Christmas gift the City of Savannah, with one hundred and fifty heavy guns and plenty of ammunition, also about twenty-five thousand bales of cotton."
- 31 December. Sherman's troops head to the Carolinas. He plans to go to Columbia and then to Goldsboro North Carolina, going through Fayetteville en route. Goldsboro is targeted because it is a rail center with lines running to New Bern and Wilmington. Troops are sent to mislead the Confederates into thinking that Charleston and Augusta are his actual goals. [See next month.]
- 31 December. In the Moravians' annual summation of the past year, the mood is mournful. "In general this year partook of the same sad and melancholy character which the preceding one exhibited; only that the horizon is surrounded by clouds, if possible, more ominous and threatening than at the beginning of the year. ... Through the length and breadth of the land only comparatively few families can be found whose fathers and sons or other connections are not from home, and in whose behalf the minds of parents, wives and relatives are not filled with anxious fears and sad forebodings."
Another sign of bad times: the Committee this month resolved to take payment for burial in their graveyard only in gold or silver, and "on no terms take in Confederate money."
This Month's Fiction
Sherman's March, by Cynthia Bass, pub. 1994, 228 p. Bass has imaginatively and eloquently written a historically accurate, fictionalized ``primary source'' in three personal narratives. Speakers include Sherman; Nicholas J. Whiteman, Captain XIV Corp, U.S. Army; and Annie Saunders Baker, Southern widow and refugee. They meet briefly as the book closes, but it is Sherman's afterword that allows readers to contemplate the March and the man who led this strategic end to war. Sherman sees his March as the only way to peace--but, as circumstances bring the three narrators together, it's left to the reader to decide whether peace is worth obtaining at such a terrible cost.
Call Number: FIC JAK
Publication Date: 2004-10-21
Jakes's latest historical novel recounts the taking of Savannah by Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman's Union Army during Christmas 1864. Fundamentally, it is the story of Sara Lester and her precocious 12-year-old daughter, Hattie, who has an aversion to General Sherman until she finds herself in need of his help. The narrative offers adventure, romance, humor, and crime along with the trials of an American city living under what is, to its citizens, occupation by a foreign army. Though lighter in tone and significantly shorter in size and scope than the author's previous novels, this work is still an engaging, well-crafted, and tightly focused story of a relatively unknown period of U.S. history.
Pink and Say
Call Number: P POL
Publication Date: 1994-09-15
This picture book set during the Civil War is a departure for Polacco in terms of content and audience. It is certainly the deepest and most serious book she has done. Sheldon Curtis, 15, a white boy, lies badly wounded in a field in Georgia when Pinkus Aylee, an African American Union soldier about Sheldon's age, finds him and carries him home to his mother, Moe Moe Bay. Sheldon, known as Say, is nursed back to health in her nurturing care. But then she is killed by marauders, and the boys return to their units. They are then are captured and taken to Andersonville, where Pink is hanged within hours of their capture. One of the most touching moments is when Pink reads aloud from the Bible to Moe Moe and Say. Say tells them that he can't read, but then he offers something he's very proud of: he once shook Abraham Lincoln's hand. This is a central image in the story, and is what ties the boys together for a final time, as Pink cries, "`Let me touch the hand that touched Mr. Lincoln, Say, just one last time.'" The picture of their clasped hands, with the hands of the soldiers wrenching them apart, is exceptionally moving. Gr. 4 up -- despite the picture book format, this is not for very young children.
This Month's Non-Fiction
Call Number: 973.737 TRU
Publication Date: 2008-08-05
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.
Marching Through Georgia
Call Number: 973.7 378 KEN
Publication Date: 1995-02-01
Kennett, a distinguished military historian, has not previously dealt with the Civil War, but no reader familiar with his earlier work will be surprised by the excellence of his history of Sherman's Georgia campaign of 1864. As always, Kennett focuses on the man in the street or in the ranks, on the common soldiers of both armies and the civilians caught in the path of events often beyond their understanding as well as their control. He has researched thoroughly and written clearly, and he is particularly eloquent on how the group dynamics of Sherman's army affected soldiers' conduct during the March to the Sea, which was better than Southerners have argued for generations, although worse than Northern propaganda claimed it was. A thoroughly readable, highly useful addition to the Civil War shelves.
Embrace an Angry Wind
Call Number: 973 .737 SWO
Publication Date: 1992-02-01
Sword has written a very descriptive narrative of the self-destruction of the last remnants of the Confederate Army of Tennessee. Through a skillful interweaving of Federal and Confederate strategies he leads the reader through the final battles as if from the shoulder of each commanding general. The vivid descriptions of each battle are supplemented by testimony from participants. Sword's criticisms of Generals Hood, Schofield, and Thomas are thoroughly grounded and make the reader wonder how either side finally won. Hood is pictured as a glory-seeking leader willing to sacrifice his troops no matter what the odds against him; Schofield was unwilling to make a decision unless forced to from above. This is one of the best historical accounts of the final battles of the Civil War in the Western theater.
The Story of Sherman's March to the Sea
Call Number: j973.7378 K
Publication Date: 1987-04-01
Sherman's March to the Sea explores both the event and the principal character. To appreciate this book, readers will need some background in Civil War history and the frustrations that preceded Sherman's action, but the format and large print will appeal to younger readers. Gr. 4-6.
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