"EMBRACE AN ANGRY WIND: The Confederacy's Last Hurrah: Spring Hill, Franklin, and Nashville" by Wiley Sword

"EMBRACE AN ANGRY WIND: The Confederacy's Last Hurrah: Spring Hill, Franklin, and Nashville"

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

Just as commercial blight covers the once bloodstained battlefields of Franklin and Nashville, so have other Civil War battles obscured the significance of Rebel defeats there. Here, Sword (Shiloh, 1974) compellingly re-creates the heroism, missed chances, political backbiting, and flawed Rebel leadership underlying the outcome at these killing grounds. In the summer of 1864, desperate to halt Sherman's campaign through Georgia, Jefferson Davis named John Bell Hood to head the Army of the Tennessee, a force torn apart by quarreling generals. Wounded in love and war, Hood, with his melancholy mien and artificial leg, seemed to embody the Southern chevalier--yet a subordinate summed him up as having ""a lion's heart"" but ""a wooden head."" Sword is equally uncharitable: ""a disabled personality prone to miscalculation and misperception...a fool with a license to kill his own men."" In November and December, Hood's post-Atlanta dash into Tennessee (an attempt to threaten Sherman's supply lines and terrorize Union strongholds in the Ohio Valley) was catastrophic: miscommunication that foiled a chance to crumple up a Federal column at Spring Hill; an angry frontal attack against Union entrenchments the next day at Franklin, remembered as ""the Gettysburg of the West"" because of the desperate valor and needless sacrifice of the Confederate rank and file; a stinging lesson in strategy at the Battle of Nashville from Hood's former West Point instructor, the Union's methodical George G. Thomas; and the miserable attempt to escape the Federals in icy weather. The outcome was unprecedented: 23,500 casualties out of 38,000 Confederate troops--the only instance in the war when an entire army collapsed as a fighting force. A critical Civil War campaign, narrated with brisk attention to the nuances of strategy--and with measured solemnity over the waste of life in war.

Pub Date: Feb. 12th, 1992
Page count: 416pp
Publisher: HarperCollins