I’m almost finished reading Wiley Sword’s new book – Courage Under Fire: Profiles in Bravery from the Battlefields of the Civil War. I have really enjoyed it. He focuses on the subject of courage (or lack thereof) during the Civil War on the part of the common soldier, and even some officers and Generals. He equally gives treatment to northern and southern stories. His personal collection of Civil War letters is the main resource he draws from for many of the letters he profiles, which only makes me salivate, wishing I owned a tenth of the quality of letters he does.
For those interested in or from the middle Tennessee area (i.e., Nashville, Franklin, Spring Hill, etc.,) one will find many examples from this book to read about.
The CWG gives this a hearty 4.5 stars (out of five) for Courage Under Fire.
From the book description:
Through diaries and letter written on the battlefield, in camps, and on the deathbeds of soldiers from north and south, Wiley Sword, writes about more than the Civil War. He writes of the complex working of a soldier’s mind coming to grips with life and death in a time when his country was at war with itself. On Aug. 3, 1864, Illinois Lieutenant Frank Curtiss was ordered by his commander to take the 127th Illinois Infantry into a charge of the fortified Rebel lines. He knew certain death was in store for him and his men. He also knew little tactical superiority would be gained for lives lost and refused to do it. Confederate Brigadier General Patrick Cleburne, one of the South’s greatest military tacticians, left diaries showing he was striving to refine his methods to save lives while winning battles. And then there is the Rhode Island Regiment’s Major Sullivan Ballou who, in 1861 on the eve of the battle of Bull Run who wrote of courage and dedication to his cause. Wiley Sword constructs a picture of the military mind that still resonates in today’s wars.