Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Bradley to discuss "From Conciliation to Conquest" on Civil War Talk Radio

Gerry Prokopowicz invites a fascinating range of Civil War personalities to appear on his web radio program Civil War Talk Radio. I rarely skip it and certainly won't miss May 18th's interview with George C. Bradley, co-author with the late Richard Dahlen of the book From Conciliation to Conquest: The Sack of Athens and the Court-Martial of Colonel John B. Turchin (University of Alabama Press, 2006). I reviewed it for North & South Magazine last Fall but it has yet to appear. I don't recall if Prokopowicz selected it for his article in the same magazine that reviewed last year's most important books. If not, it is certainly deserving. It's a deeply thought out and rich examination of an event that occurred at the crossroads of Union policy change from conciliation to 'hard war'.

One of the more fascinating arguments put forth by Bradley and Dahlen is the questioning of whether conducting a conciliatory policy was even possible considering the composition of Civil War armies -- masses of undisciplined, democratically minded soldiers and lower ranked officers unable or unwilling to restrain them; all the while being bombarded with an often vicious language of revenge by the media, politicians, and citizens back home. It's interesting stuff.

On another note, Ethan Rafuse wrote a nice review recently for Civil War News. The following paragraph near the bottom caught my attention

Moreover, more attention could have been devoted to Buell's experience implementing a conciliatory policy in Nashville. It was so successful that an agent from the War Department virtually begged Washington, without success, to drop its plan to send Andrew Johnson to Tennessee as military governor on the grounds that it would ruin the success Buell was having with the local population.

It strikes me that static garrisons controlling cities and towns behind the lines were in a much better position to implement a conciliatory policy than roving armies on campaign. I would like to read more about Rafuse's contention. If he visits here, perhaps he will drop by with some recommended reading.

Anyway, read this book and listen to the radio interview on the 18th. I can't imagine an open minded person being disappointed.

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