"SEASONS OF WAR: The Ordeal of a Southern Community, 1861-1865" by Daniel E. Sutherland

"SEASONS OF WAR: The Ordeal of a Southern Community, 1861-1865"

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

The triumphs and trials of a small Virginia community that lay directly in the paths of the warring Union and Confederate armies, superbly chronicled by historian Sutherland (Univ. of Arkansas; The Expansion of Everyday Life: 1860-1876, 1989, etc.). The fortunes of Culpeper County in many ways mirrored those of the South at large, the seasons of its war tracking those of the Confederacy. Here these fortunes are vividly captured, from immediately before the war through the South's early successes and eventual defeat. Culpeper saw much bloodshed between 1861 and 1865: It was near Manassas, within earshot of Chancellorville and Fredericksburg, and the site of the brutal Cedar Mountain campaign. Culpeper was also twice occupied by the Union Army and a temporary base of operations for Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. Even ""homely angel"" Clara Barton made an appearance in Culpeper to nurse the casualties of Cedar Mountain. But it is in his depictions of the common soldier and of everyday civilian life in a war zone that Sutherland shines, bringing immediacy to historic events through creative present-tense narrative, judicious use of statistics, and liberal quoting from the participants themselves. These include Catherine Crittenden, whose home went from prosperous farm to battlefield to hospital; soldiers who buried playing cards and tobacco so that, in case of their death, these evil items wouldn't be sent home to mothers, wives, and girlfriends; soldiers burying the severed limbs of wounded comrades; Bessie Browning and Daniel Grimsley, engaged before the war, faithful correspondents during it, and married after. And through these ordinary citizens, Sutherland creates a picture of the war that is at once comprehensive and highly personal. A rare combination of documented facts and moving storytelling.

Pub Date: Dec. 4th, 1995
Page count: 400pp
Publisher: Free Press