Question of the Week #8

What is your favorite battle to study or read about?

23 Responses to Question of the Week #8

    1. The Battle of Nashville was a truly decisive battle and an early form of Blitzkrieg with its coordinated use of cavalry and infantry.

  1. Sheridan’s Shenandoah Valley campaign of 1864, especially Cedar Creek. I enjoy reading about these because the areas look much the same today as they did then, and it is easy to imagine the battles. Plus I am interested in the impact of the war on civilians, so the scorched earth policy is pertinent. Finally, the Custer/Mosby conflict is riveting.

  2. For me, First Bull Run–it sets the stage for a dark and serious time ahead–so different from the joyous patriotism, colorful uniforms, and “on a lark” mentality that preceded it. Everyone stepped back to reevaluate after Manassas.

  3. For me it’s the Siege of Petersburg, and I started spending so much time studying the campaign that I created a web site out of it. Most regimental histories tend to go from the Wilderness to Appomattox in a flash. The Siege of Petersburg is one of the last main Eastern campaigns to be covered, and many battles don’t have even a short monograph. The Battle of Jerusalem Plank road, the Battle of Boydton Plank Road, and the battle of Hatcher’s Run are three of the largest examples. Battle studies built around the three offensives those battles were a part of would do much to help the general reader learn more.

  4. Petersburg, although not really a battle or even a siege, but an intricate nine month chess game between two of the wars best generals.There were 10 union offensives and 8 confederate counter-offensives, each fascinating in their own right, but all to often get written off collectively as the “Siege of Petersburg.”

  5. Shiloh. It was early enough in the war to share in the effect of disillusionment that accompanied Bull Run, in the East. It was here that the weaknesses of old school Mexican War heroes like Albert Sydney Johnston were exposed; and the path to true military leadership by Grant and Sherman was begun.

  6. This has been such a hard question that I have put off answering it, as I enjoy so much reading about any and all of the battles! Shiloh is a particular favorite, and I leap upon books about it. Also, I am very keen to learn everything about the Atlanta campaign; the battles (and battlefields) of Pickett’s Mill and Kennesaw Mountain hold special interest. Finally, there is something about the battles and engagements around Manassas that keep pulling me back there again and again. This is sounding increasingly indecisive, so I will conclude with a single vote for Shiloh.

    1. Amanda, overlapping questions concerning the writing of Shelby Foote, and this consideration of Shiloh as a favorite battle — will you comment on Foote’s novel “Shiloh”?

      1. Oops–that is one book about Shiloh I haven’t read. I almost never read fiction but have delved into some Civil War fiction, particularly with my 10-year-old to cultivate further her interest in the War. (I can give some recommendations of great CW novels for the 10-13 age group!) But the discussions you mention and your question have piqued my interest in Foote’s “Shiloh.” I will turn it around and ask you to comment on the book, please!

  7. Here’s the tally so far: Gettysburg 4; Nashville, Petersburg, and Shiloh tied with 2; and 1864 Valley campaign, Spotsylvania Court House, First Bull Run, and Pea Ridge (allowing kacinash two votes) all get 1 vote.

  8. At Amanda’s request: Published on the 90th anniversary of the actual battle, the novel, “Shiloh” is quite unusual. There are only about a half-dozen characters with much to say, but it is the manner in which their perspectives are interwoven that makes the novel work. For example, Foote’s “Shiloh” has a narrative bracketed by fictional Confederate Lieutenant Palmer Metcalf; but thrust between these brackets are the observations of a U.S. Captain Walter Fountain. Hereby, with little over two hundred pages, a multi-faceted story unfolds. The places, and general flow of the battle are factual. The “truth” revealed by fictional artistry (op.cit.) is profoundly manifest.

  9. Everyone has mentioned land battles. How about favorite naval battles? Sign me up for the Battle of Mobile Bay. Admiral Farragut has a great personal story as a Southerner fighting for the Union and as an example of a decisive leader. The battle is filled with drama.

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