A Rising Thunder: From Lincoln's Election to the Battle of Bull Run : An Eyewitness History

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9780060169923: A Rising Thunder: From Lincoln's Election to the Battle of Bull Run : An Eyewitness History

A Rising Thunder: From Lincoln's Election to the Battle of Bull Run : An Eyewitness History

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From the Publisher:

"A compelling and fascinating portrait of North and South as they embark on four long years of warfare. . . . A remarkable literary achievement."--Flint Michigan Journal

From Kirkus Reviews:

Whitman once said that the real history of the Civil War would never be written. Nonetheless, in his riveting accounts, Wheeler (Lee's Terrible Swift Sword, 1992, etc.) seems to come close to capturing the war as experienced by its contemporaries. Here, he covers the conflict's surrealistic, turbulent beginning and first battle. Using contemporary diaries, newspapers, speeches, and articles, Wheeler captures the gradual development of the crisis between North and South over the half-century before the war: the naivet‚, euphoria, and idealism of the 1860 campaign; the stirring secessions of South Carolina and other states as the Buchanan Administration sat paralyzed in Washington; the contempt that greeted Lincoln's arrival in Washington; and the amateurish military exploits of the war's early months. The images that emerge from these first-person accounts linger: a dazed Buchanan, hearing at a friend's wedding that South Carolina has seceded, collapsing in a chair and abruptly leaving; the wife of the Fort Sumter commander crossing an armed harbor to be with her husband; the thin, awkward figure of Stonewall Jackson, dressed as a private soldier, swaying from side to side in his saddle as he rides into battle; and the abolitionist Theodore Winthrop falling while leading his men in a suicidal charge at Big Bethel, the first substantial skirmish of the war. Even the ignominious rout of Union soldiers after Jackson's surprise charge won the confused Battle of First Bull Run didn't seem to make Americans realize that the war was going to be a costly business (civilians had gone out in carriages to view the battle). Wheeler ends with the retreat after Bull Run--it wasn't until the following year, with the Seven Days, Shiloh, and Antietam, that Americans both North and South realized that the rebellion was going to be not a quick, colorful game but a grim, grueling horror. A valuable addition to Civil War literature, both scholarly and popular. (120 photos) -- Copyright 1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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