The Battles That Doomed the Confederacy
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 A flawed chronicle of the two 1863 Tennessee battles in the Civil War that fell on the heels of Gettysburg and Vicksburg. The War between the States, the true American epic, warrants a Homer to tell the tale, but Bowers is not in the least Homeric. The author, who also wrote Stonewall Jackson (1989), places far too much emphasis on the historical importance of these two battles. A native Tennessean, he has a natural interest in them, but the fact remains that Gettysburg and Vicksburg, not these later engagements, sounded the death knell for the Confederacy. Bowers does a decent job of profiling such generals as the Rebel eccentric Braxton Bragg, known for the fiery flatulence of both his temper and his digestive system (he had caught chronic Montezuma's Revenge during the Mexican War). He also paints good portraits of Union general William Starke Rosecrans (known by the sobriquet ``Old Rosey'') and the Confederate hotspur Nathan Bedford Forrest. Bowers's best writing is his description of General Grant's arrival at Chattanooga. Grant was the ``people's general'' whose plain, unassuming manner made him a hero as much as his victories on the battlefield. Bowers spends too much time on Chickamauga and too little on Chattanooga, which is a far more compelling story. He also does not serve the account well by inserting dubious dialogue by the major participants in the course of the narrative. Bowers's writing is stilted, repetitive, and clichÇ-ridden. Despite such limitations, Civil War buffs north and south of the Mason-Dixon Line will still find enough in this book not to be entirely disappointed.

Pub Date: May 31st, 1994
ISBN: 0-06-016592-8
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 1994