Soldiering in the Army of Tennessee: A Portrait of Life in a Confederate Army, and: Reminiscences of a Private: William E. Bevens of the First Arkansas Infantry, C.S.A. (review)
- Civil War History
- The Kent State University Press
- Volume 39, Number 1, March 1993
- pp. 71-73
- Additional Information
BOOK REVIEWS71 Surprisingly, not all of the battles get covered. Some major operations are mentioned only as an afterthought, far out of chronological and military sequence (First Deep Bottom before First Darbytown Road). Others are omitted altogether: the Confederate mine, Second Squirrel Level Road, Second Darbytown Road, and many Northern cavalry probes below Petersburg, for example. Most glaring is the absence of any coverage (other than quoting Grant's report) of operations south of Hatcher's Run, including the Battle of Five Forks. This overall history of the Siege of Petersburg gives just five sentences to Five Forks, all of them written by General Grant in 1865. Also in short supply is historical analysis of the siege. Although the eight pages of the final chapter do contain some astute assessments, one would have hoped for more extensive evaluations in summation and for more analysis throughout the text. Quality narration of a good story, enriched with captivating quotations, does indeed make for good reading. Undergirding that narrative with more accuracy and analysis would have made for enduring history. Fittingly, the story simulates the siege. From the First and Second Offensives in mid-June 1864, to the final offensive in early spring 1865, the Yankee army drove for the Cockade City. Like each Federal offensive, this book does not capture the totality of Petersburg in one try. But also like those offensives, this book has made a significant step toward that objective. General Humphreys can finally retire; The Last Citadel now stands as the best available one-volume work on the siege. Noah Andre Trudeau deserves to be congratulated. Richard J. Sommers U.S. Army Military History Institute Soldiering in the Army of Tennessee: A Portrait ofLife in a Confederate Army. By Larry J. Daniel. (Chapel Hill and London: University of North Carolina Press, 1991. Pp. xvi, 231. $22.50.) Reminiscences of a Private: William E. Bevens of the First Arkansas Infantry, CS.A. Edited with an introduction by Daniel E. Sutherland. (Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 1992. Pp. xxix, 282. $30.00.) Larry J. Daniel, author of Cannoneers in Gray: The Field Artillery of the Army of Tennessee, 1861-1865 (1984), now presents the first scholarly study of the life of the enlisted men in the Army of Tennessee. Bell I. Wiley, James I. Robertson, Jr., and Reid Mitchell studied the life of Civil War soldiers generally, and in Two Great Rebel Armies (1989) Richard M. McMurry compared Lee's Army of Northern Virginia with the Army of Tennessee, but with emphasis on the high command. In ten chapters Daniel analyzes the western army's appearance, literacy and 72CIVIL WAR HISTORY refinement, morale, arms, rations, medical care, camp life, discipline, religion, and fighting spirit. Comparing the western Rebels to their counterparts in the East, Daniel concludes that the western army was more ragged-looking, more lacking in discipline and refinement, and suffering from lower morale. He supports the interpretation of Thomas L. Connelly that Army of Tennessee troops, unable to identify with a great commander such as Robert E. Lee, maintained their cohesiveness on the regimental or brigade level. The factors that melded them were punishment , religion, shared suffering, and serving together under losing generals. Like Steven E. Woodworth in Jefferson Davis and His Generals (1990), Daniel disputes Connelly's negative view of Braxton Bragg. He claims that lower morale came not so much from Bragg's ineptness as from factors such as the consolidation and shifting of units and having to fight so far from home. While the western Confederates lacked the esprit of Virginians, they never lacked courage. What shored their spirits and gave them self-confidence was their knowledge that they could hold their own in battle. The first day at Shiloh was a great victory, as was the first day at Murfreesboro, and at Chickamauga they routed the enemy. Their own perspective enabled them to fight well in the Atlanta campaign , and in the battle of Franklin they formed a splendid line of eighteen thousand men and charged again and again in the face of withering fire. John M. Schofield, the Union commander at Franklin, proclaimed, "I doubt if any soldiers in the world ever needed so...