"Bitterly Divided" looks at the mythical Solid South: how white Southern Unionists, free and enslaved Southern blacks, and Native Americans in the Sou"Bitterly Divided" looks at the mythical Solid South: how white Southern Unionists, free and enslaved Southern blacks, and Native Americans in the South opposed the Confederate States of America. This is an interesting and important topic, and one probably one unfamiliar to most people.
The book is essentially a compilation of lots of mostly short anecdotes (which are cited). The anti-Confederates are important, but there doesn't seem to be much effort in determining how statistically significant they actually were.
I read about 2/3's of this book before finally putting it down for good. I just found it kind of dull. The sheer volume of anecdotes becomes a bit repetitive. They aren't enhancing a narrative; they are the narrative.
This is an important topic and I heard many good comments about this book from Civil War readers, but unfortunately I can't recommend it myself....more
"By the Noble Daring of Her Sons" covers the history of the regiments that eventually came to comprise the Florida Brigade in the Confederate Army of"By the Noble Daring of Her Sons" covers the history of the regiments that eventually came to comprise the Florida Brigade in the Confederate Army of Tennessee: the 1st, 3rd, 4th, 6th, and 7th Florida Infantry and the 1st Florida Cavalry, Dismounted. Sheppard covers the origins of each of the regiments and their early duty training and guarding parts the Florida coast. In 1862 the regiments are one after another called up to the main western Confederate army (the Army of Mississippi at the time; later renamed Army of Tennessee). The 1st and 3rd arrive in time for Shiloh. All the regiments, initially parts of two separate brigades, are part of the Kentucky Campaign (including Perryville), Stones River, Jackson (during the end of the Vicksburg Campaign), Chickamauga, Missionary Ridge at Chattanooga, the Atlanta Campaign, the Nashville Campaign, and Bentonville. It's only around the time of Chattanooga that reorganization brings all the regiments into a single brigade, which they remain together for the rest of the war.
The narrative is a tightly focused on the role of the Florida regiments, giving only enough of the bigger picture as necessary. Letters and diary entries are quoted frequently, with their colorful spelling and grammar left largely intact. The time between campaigns and battles is giving plenty of coverage. Sheppard seems seems reasonably unbiased. He is pretty good with officers and generals, letting the Florida soldiers give their opinions. He does try to explain the failings of the Florida Brigade late in the war (it was routed several times in 1864), but his explanations are reasonable.
This book does have some quirks, plus at least one repeated error. The main western Confederate army in 1862 is repeatedly called the "Army of the Mississippi" when it was actually the "Army of Mississippi"(as in the state, not the river). The author is very fond of referring to everyone by their full name almost every time they are mentioned, even generals. Some of the quotes simply don't add anything to the narrative. For example, General Hardee is mentioned as leaving the army and the next sentence is a quote from a Florida soldier that says matter-of-factually that Hardee gave a short speech then left. The quote might have been useful had the soldier given some opinion on Hardee's departure, but he did not. He makes a curious statement at one point about the Floridians being armed with worthless .69 cal smoothbore muskets. While these guns lacked the range and accuracy of the rifled muskets of the war, the .69 was actually devastating at close range because it fired "buck & ball" (several buckshot in addition to the main musket ball). When some "big picture" comment needs to be made on a battle or campaign, the author seems to always fall back on quoting some prestigious Civil War writer, seeming to offer little or no opinion of his own on the matters. Sometimes this is a bit dangerous; for example, he explains the infamous attack at Franklin by quoting one author who suggests Hood wanted to "punish his army via frontal assault". The Florida Brigade participated in the attack so why Hood ordered his attack is I think significant enough to the narrative to merit more than a single throwaway quote on a controversial subject.
The sum total of all this gives me the impression that while the author did a very good job researching the Florida regiments he doesn't actually know very much about the Civil War.
I do still give this a mild recommendation, particularly to Civil War buffs who like regimental histories. It's also probably worth reading for those interested in genealogy who had ancestors that fought in the regiments in question and want a good idea of what said ancestors went through during the war....more