Book Review: Confederate Courage on Other Fields: Overlooked Episodes of Leadership, Cruelty, Character, and Kindness

This latest offering from Savas Beatie is a reissue of Mark J. Crawford’s Confederate Courage on Other Fields: Overlooked Episodes of Leadership, Cruelty, Character, and Kindness, originally published by McFarland & Company, Inc. in 2000. As far as I can tell there are no additions or updates to the original. This nicely sized (7″ x 10″) book is an interesting read, especially for fans of lesser-known people and events from the Late Unpleasantness.

As the title implies, the book is divided into four parts: Leadership (“The South’s ‘Sunset Charge'”), Cruelty (“An Eye for an Eye”), Character (“‘I’ll Live Yet to Dance on That Foot”‘), and Kindness (“Rebel Resort of the Dead”). Each chapter contains images from a variety of collections, which add greatly to the text.

“The South’s ‘Sunset Charge'” is the story of the Battle of Dinwiddie Courthouse, an often-overlooked engagement because of its relationship to the Battle of Five Forks. The piece examines the leadership decisions made by Confederate major generals Fitzhugh Lee, George Pickett, and Thomas Rosser to deploy their men against a significantly better-armed Union. This micro-analysis of the battle clearly explains why Dinwiddie Courthouse is considered to be a tactical, if ultimately meaningless, victory for the Confederacy.

“An Eye for an Eye,” examines the sad results of a perceived quarrel between Missouri guerilla Colonel Timothy Reeves and U. S. Major James Wilson during southeast Missouri’s mid-to-later war years. Reeves ordered the murder of Major Wilson (and some of his men) when he was a prisoner of war. This resulted in federal “payback” murders of random CSA prisoners, an exasperating situation that was only stopped by the intervention of President Abraham Lincoln.

“‘I’ll Live Yet to Dance on That Foot,'” offers a look at a member of the southern Chivalry, Colonel Charles C. Blacknall or the 23rd North Carolina Infantry. Blacknall was a “wealthy, well-educated farmer and slave-owner.” His copious collections of letters to members of his family show a man of forthright opinions, confident and energetic. Yet the letters also show that this brutal war gradually wore even such a vibrant personality down. Blacknall refused to have his injured foot amputated in a reasonable amount of time, arguing and claiming, as the title indicates, that he will once again dance on his injured foot. Unfortunately, he died two months after his wounding at the battle of Winchester, in mid-November of 1864.

“Rebel Resort of the Dead,” refers to the former southern resort of Kittrell’s Springs, North Carolina. Known prior to the war for its curative waters and lovely, well-tended grounds, it became Confederate General Hospital No. 1 in the spring of 1864. The first patients to arrive came in the second week of June, and within another week, only forty-two of the 265 beds were empty. Under the direction of Dr. Holt F. Butt and with the help of the Reverend Mathias Murray Marshall, the hospital gained a reputation as being a place of kindness and healing. Fifty-four soldiers call the small cemetery at Kittrell’s Springs their final resting place.

Mark Crawford

Author Mark Crawford spent the first part of his professional life as an exploration geologist. This practice of finding hidden bits of scientific information prepared him well for the new materials and sources he discovered by “driving up dirt roads and knocking on ancestral doors.” Crawford’s book shines a light on some of the unique characters whose stories add further information and depth to the study of the American Civil War.

Confederate Courage on Other Fields: Overlooked Episodes of Leadership, Cruelty, Character, and Kindness. By Mark J. Crawford. Photos, maps, notes, references, appendix (Confederate Cemetery Roster at Kittrell), index, 190 pp. Savas Beatie, $18.95, softcover.

About Meg Groeling

CW Historian
This entry was posted in Armies, Battles, Book Review, Books & Authors, Campaigns, Cavalry, Civilian, Common Soldier, Leadership--Confederate, Medical, Personalities, Primary Sources and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Book Review: Confederate Courage on Other Fields: Overlooked Episodes of Leadership, Cruelty, Character, and Kindness

  1. Pingback: ECW Week in Review August 7-13 | Emerging Civil War

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