SHERMAN'S MARCH by Cynthia Bass

SHERMAN'S MARCH

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KIRKUS REVIEW

 This first novel examines General William Tecumseh Sherman's March to the Sea from the perspectives of a Union captain, a Southern widow, and Sherman himself. The general issued Special Order Number 120 in November 1864, instructing the Union army to move across Georgia from Atlanta to Savannah, ``forage liberally on the country,'' and ``enforce a devastation more or less relentless.'' Bass looks at the effect on the Confederate people through the eyes of Annie Saunders Baker. Though familiar with ``every burning, every hanging, every torture, every rape'' inflicted by the North, Annie is caught alone and unprepared by troops who arrive to ``forage'' but become intoxicated by their power and burn her house down. She becomes a refugee and, in an unlikely twist, finds the excitement of ``throwing it all away, of starting anew...Hey: it didn't sound so bad.'' Captain Nicholas J. Whiteman, a Yankee soldier with a conscience who believes his general is a genius, refuses to take food from a poor woman and makes friends with a Confederate soldier. His version of the march proves it is not all fun and games. Finally, Sherman lends his own voice--actually, two voices. The first provides vivid descriptions of wartime experiences like visiting a field hospital where the air has the sickening smell of ``lemonade left to steep in the sun'' and the blood ``has the color and ooze of raisins.'' The second revises popular history, as when Sherman insists that he never said, ``War is Hell,'' but rather ``there is many a boy...who looks on war as all glory. But boys, it is all hell.'' He concedes later, ``It's hard to become immortal without being misunderstood. Look at Christ.'' A clunky mÇlange of fact and fiction. Special order? Cease and desist.

Pub Date: July 1st, 1994
ISBN: 0-679-43033-4
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Villard
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 1994




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