Fredericksburg: A Novel of the Irish at Marye's Heights

Kirk Mitchell, Author St. Martin's Press $23.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-312-13974-2
The Battle of Fredericksburg, Va., in 1862 was the Union's most costly and humiliating defeat of the Civil War. In this powerful account of the conflict, Mitchell (Shadow on the Valley) chronicles the fates of the Irish soldiers who fought for both sides. Approaching his subject as Michael Shaara did in his 1974 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of Gettysburg, The Killer Angels, Mitchell starkly showcases real-life generals, captains, sergeants and privates as they fight and struggle to survive. On the frozen slopes of Marye's Heights, Union General Thomas Meagher commands the tough Irish Brigade. Ailing from wounds and troubled by Union delays and blunders, he gallantly leads his Yankee Irishmen as they vainly charge across open ground to reach Rebel entrenchments. Hidden within a sunken road and behind a stone wall, meanwhile, the Confederate Irishmen of Colonel Robert McMillan's 24th Georgia Volunteers nervously wait for the massive Yankee assault. Sgt. Michael Sullivan, McMillan's orderly, is steadfast and true, while across the line, William Tyrrell, a Yankee color sergeant, struggles with fear and self-doubt, hoping for a wound that will prevent him from running away. Through this compelling tale of valor, hardship and sacrifice, Mitchell demonstrates that the Civil War Irish fought like demons, but that their courage was no match for the flaming walls of cannon and musket fire that consumed them utterly. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 03/04/1996
Release date: 03/01/1996
Genre: Fiction
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