A Scythe of Fire

26 09 2008

Image of 8th GA colors used at Bull Run from this site on 9/26/2008.

I’ve finished reading A Scythe of Fire, a Warren Wilkinson and Steven Woodworth collaboration on the 8th GA infantry regiment put together after the former’s untimely death.  I was encouraged to read it based on Wilkinson’s classic (if that word can be applied to such a recent book) Mother May You Never See The Sights I Have Seen.  While Scythe is a nice read, with some good stuff on First Bull Run and an officer’s roster for that battle I’ll use in my Confederate OOB, I found it disappointing on a few levels.  The book builds to its climax at Gettysburg, but then quickly moves through the nearly two years remaining in the war in pitifully few pages, and pretty much ignores the survivors after Appomattox.  Most disturbing was the obvious disdain for some folks exhibited by (I’m assuming) Woodworth, especially for Joe Johnston.  The same old saws are hauled out – afraid to fight, protective of his reputation, yada yada yada – in the form of unsupported opinion presented as fact.  And of course this had to be reinforced in every sentence and paragraph that used Johnston’s name.  God, that stuff is so tired.  It irks me.  It’s irksome.  But there was worthwhile content, including some surprising things about late war desertions that, as far as the 8th Georgia goes at least, fly in the face of conventional wisdom.  Given that most of those leaving the ranks did so by deserting to the enemy, the theory that they wanted to go home to care for their loved ones falls apart.  Sorry if that bit of moonlight wilts your magnolias.

Right now I’m taking some time of from my ACW reading to brush up on the Gilded Age, with Devil in the White City and American Eve.  The latter will help me in expanding on my Kilpatrick Family Ties material which I hope to turn into a round table presentation (any takers?), and both books will help when I tackle the later life of a Bull Run personality.  Until I’m finished with them, the picture of Scythe of Fire will remain at the bottom of the right hand column of this page.

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