Confederate historiography of the Civil War is rich with stories of leaders and decision makers—oft-repeated names immortalized by their association with America’s great trial of the 1860s. But while scholarship exploring the roles of Confederate generals and politicians abounds, a major part of the story remains untold: that of the ordinary people who became soldiers and turned the very pages of Civil War history.
Part of the Voices of the Civil War series, Suffering in the Army of Tennessee doesn’t just draw upon one single diary or letter collection, and it does not use brief quotations as a way to fill out a larger narrative. Rather, across eight chapters spanning the Atlanta Campaign to the Battle of Nashville in 1864, Thrasher draws upon a remarkably broad set of primary sources—newspapers, manuscripts, archives, diaries, and official documents—to tell a story that knits together accounts of senior officers, the final campaigns of the Western Theater, and the experiences of the civilians and rebel soldiers who found themselves deep in the trenches of a national reckoning. While volumes have been written on the Atlanta Campaign or the Battles of Nashville and Franklin, no previous historian has constructed what amounts to a sweeping social history of the Army of Tennessee—the daily details of soldiering and the toll it took on the men and boys who mustered into service foreseeing only a small skirmish among the states.
While this volume will appeal to Civil War buffs and military history scholars, its accessible structure and engaging narrative style will likewise captivate American history enthusiasts, students, and general readers.