Courage Under Fire: Profiles in Bravery from the Battlefields of the Civil War

Wiley Sword, Author . St. Martin's $29.95 (318p) ISBN 978-0-312-36741-1

Popular historian Sword (Southern Invincibility ) offers up much more than a series of sketches of heroic battlefield action in this free-ranging examination of moral and physical courage on both sides in the Civil War. Grounded in deep respect for the inner vision and strength required to exert “moral courage” in battles where hundreds of lives could be lost or saved with a single decision, these brief, fast-moving chapters present snapshots of many characters, primarily officers. Seen in action on the field of battle, their selflessness and physical courage under fire are evident. Sword also offers analyses of important strategic and battlefield decisions by the war's top leaders. Sword praises Abraham Lincoln, Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant, but has harsh words for Confederate generals P.G.T. Beauregard and Braxton Bragg and especially for Jefferson Davis over their lack of “moral courage” during a time of war. Davis's self-righteousness and hubris, Sword contends, “perhaps contributed the most to the ultimate defeat of the Confederacy.” (Nov.)

Reviewed on: 10/01/2007
Release date: 11/01/2007
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