ERRIBLE SWIFT SWORD by Bruce Catton

ERRIBLE SWIFT SWORD

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A Book-of-the-Month Club selection, this second volume in Catton's thundering three-volume Centennial History of the Civil War begins where the first volume, The Coming Fury, left off, immediately after Bull Run in the summer of 1861; it ends with McClellan's removal from command of the Army of the Potomac in November, 1862. In these 18 months, the war, getting out of control, spread ""to the grass-roots,"" west and south and east. Green troops fought greener troops, and in Missouri, saved for the Union in the Battle of Wilson's Greek, the inflated General Fremont called from retirement a forgotten officer named Grant. Gunboats appeared on western rivers; Grant's victories at Forts Henry and Donelson were rewarded with snubs and jealousies. Both sides suffered from political and military blunders: the South was hampered by the doctrine of States Rights, the North did not integrate its gains. Thousands died in the drawn battle of Shiloh; in Virginia, McClellan, hating Lincoln, showed a paralyzed reluctance to move on Richmond, and at Antietam Lee failed to win a decisive victory and end the war. After Antietam, Lincoln, one of the few men to recognize slavery as the basic issue of the war, blew its lid off by his Emancipation Proclamation. When McClellan, going too far in his defiance of Lincoln, was removed from command in November, '62, the final pattern of the war began to emerge from battles and political squabbles: from a limited war it had changed to an unlimited one. Superbly written and documented, with a definitive bibliography and copious chapter notes, this splendid book is filled with the frustrations and furies of war; like the previous The Coming Fury it is required reading for all students of the Civil War, professional and amateur, and is a must for all libraries of the conflict.

Pub Date: May 24th, 1963
Publisher: Doubleday