Monday, November 23, 2009


The Lincoln administration's deliberate war on innocent Southern civilians would, if it happened today in any foreign nation, no doubt be considered a war crime. Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell details the cruel way the O'Hara family was treated by a single forager, and then Gen. William T.Sherman's main army while burning and robbings his way from "Atlanta to the Sea." After reading Gone With The Wind, I wanted to read a straight history on the campaign for comparison, and found War Like the Thunder Bolt by Russell S. Bonds (Westholme, Yardley, Pa. 2009) to be an excellent read.

In his book, Bond gives a very good historical account of both the Atlanta campaign, as well as the burnings of Atlanta and the mistreatment of civilians. The campaign stretched from the summer of 1864 to that fall, leaving the whole region devastated, the city, as well as other towns, in ashes and many civilians destitute and in a starving condition. Battles of Peachtree Creek, Atlanta, Ezra Church and Jonesboro are all detailed, as well as the dramatic assumption of command of the Confederate Army of Tennessee by Gen. John Bell Hood.

We also read profiles of the many colorful personalities involved, including Confederates Hood, Joseph E. Johnston, Patrick Cleburne; Yankees Sherman, George Thomas, Benjamin Harrison, and civilians like 10-year-old Carrie Berry, who withstood the siege and occupation and recorded it in her diary. The mistreatment of civilians was every bit as portrayed by Mitchell in Gone With the Wind.

War Like the Thunderbolt, The Burning and Battle of Atlanta by Russell S. Bonds, Westholme Publishing Inc., Yardley, Pa.; 522 pages; maps, photographs; bibliogrpahy; endnotes; index; $29.95 index.

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