A Scythe of Fire: A Civil War Story of the Eighth Georgia Infantry Regiment

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9780380977529: A Scythe of Fire: A Civil War Story of the Eighth Georgia Infantry Regiment
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A gripping history of the Civil War through the eyes of the soldiers in one of its most legendary regiments--the Eighth Georgia Infantry--who fought on the forefront of the Civil War's most major battles.

The Confederate soldiers of the 8th Georgia Regiment came from all walks of life. They included upstanding men like Melvin Dwinnel, a teacher and a publisher, as well as the likes of James Potter Williamson, whose listed occupation was "loafer." They met in Rome, Georgia, in May 1861, and became the first regiment to enlist for the duration of the hostilities--most others held together for a single season.

United by a deep love for the land left behind and a fierce determination to fight for their homes and way of life, the men of the 8th persevered through brutal battles, miserable conditions, and dimming prospects of a Confederate victory.

Using diaries, letters home to loved ones, and other historical documents, Steven E. Woodworth follows these brave men from the red clay of Georgia, through the Battle of Bull Run, to Maryland, into the bloody battle of Gettysburg, through Tennessee and the brutal Battle of Chickamauga, and finally to their ultimate defeat at Appomattox. Through every struggle, he reveals their motivations and sometimes painful decisions, telling a story of human hopes and fears and ultimately showing this most divisive war at its most personal.

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Every war redefines hell. A Scythe of Fire by Warren Wilkinson and Steven E. Woodworth follows the Eighth Georgia Infantry Regiment on its journey through the particular underworld of the American Civil War. The Eighth Georgia Infantry, one of the Confederacy's most fabled units, fought at both battles of Bull Run, as well as at Sharpsburg, Fredericksburg, the Battle of the Wilderness, and Gettysburg, where it suffered a 55 percent casualty rate. The regiment, born of idealism, disbanded, disillusioned and embittered. (More than a few soldiers defected to the Union side.) A Scythe of Fire may be too overwrought ("Now, as autumn began to paint ... the Blue Ridge in scarlets and yellows, the tide of Confederate success ebbed away for a season.") and far too detailed and singly focused to hold the interest of the general reader. Many Civil War buffs, on the other hand, will find this a welcome addition to their libraries. --H. O'Billovitch

From the Back Cover:

The men of the Eighth Georgia Infantry Regiment answered the Confederate call to arms in the spring of 1861, virtually at the moment that war was declared. They came from all corners of the state, some dressed in mismatched homemade uniforms, others in tailored finery. Proud and defiant, convinced that "one Southerner could whip ten Yankees," they plunged into the murderous heat of battle at Bull Run. Years later, after enduring combat's most vigorous trials in Maryland, at Gettysburg, and throughout East Tennessee and the bloody horror of the Wilderness -- their ranks severely depleted by winter and sickness and Union cannon, shot, and sword -- they were at Appomattox to witness the ultimate defeat of their beloved homeland. Few men saw more hard fighting than those of the Eighth Georgia, and their remarkable story is the history of the South at war.

A monumental work of heart and scholarship, A Scythe of Fire tells the remarkable story of a single regiment that held together through long years of victory, defeat, despair, and death, from the Civil War's opening salvo to the Confederate surrender. The magnificent product of meticulous research, Warren Wilkinson and Steven E. Woodworth's stirring chronicle of America's War Between the States brings the conflict alive as never before through the eyes of the courageous men who fought and died on the nation's battlefields. Based on personal accounts, diaries, letters, and other primary sources, here is a tale of bravery and fortitude; the true story of fighting men united by an intense love of their land and devotion to a way of life.

From the first heady days of the Southern secession and dreams of rapid triumph through harrowing winter marches and action in some of the fiercest conflicts of the war, A Scythe of Fire is the history of the Eighth Georgia as experienced by those who carried its standard into battle: doctors and farmers, land owners and simple folk, each dedicated to victory yet proud and unbroken in the face of defeat. It is a vivid, unforgettable, and profoundly human story of hope, folly, loyalty, and courage that will stand among the most acclaimed chronicles of the nation's bloodiest and most terrible epoch.

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