A painstakingly detailed account of a little-remembered Civil War campaign that changed the course of that conflict. By the spring of 1862, the Confederate Army had lost steam after victories early in the war, and the Union had encircled Richmond, the capital of the secession. Krick, a prolific historian whose focus has long been on the war's sideshows, analyzes a small campaign in the Shenandoah Valley whose outcome led to the relief of that siege and thus allowed the war to continue for three more years. Arrayed against a powerful force commanded by the western explorer John C. Frâ€šmont, Virginia cavalryman Thomas ""Stonewall"" Jackson executed a brilliant and daring attack that led to the collapse of the Union's western front. Replying to the call of military historian John Keegan for accounts that bring to life the daily horror of war for its combatants, Krick combs little-visited archives to find documents that allow the soldiers to speak for themselves. One Confederate sergeant remembers a suicidal charge against the Union lines: ""We crawled up . . . on our bellies, rising to shoot, dropping again to load and advance. And every time we rose some comrades dropped to rise no more."" Another soldier recalls, ""Men beat each other's brains out with muskets which they have no time to load. Those who go down to die think only of revenge, and they clutch the nearest foe with a grasp which renders death stronger."" Krick also writes with authority on the character of the leaders involved, noting that Frâ€šmont avoided a fight whenever possible, while Jackson favored ""aggressive measures"" that often cost his men dearly. Devoted buffs of Civil War history will find this a thoroughly engaging book.