Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Booknotes: We Ride a Whirlwind

New Arrival:
We Ride a Whirlwind: Sherman and Johnston at Bennett Place by Eric J. Wittenberg (Fox Run Pub, 2017).

Eric Wittenberg has often expressed his deep interest in the 1865 campaign in North Carolina, and, indeed, one of his many books examines the Battle of Monroe's Crossroads. Like everyone else who has read them, he also is a great admirer of Michael Bradley's pair of books on the Bentonville battle and the Confederate surrender at Bennett Place. So why another book about Bennett Place? In the preface, Wittenberg explains that his book is primarily concerned with the surrender negotiations at the site and their historical significance, events that he feels are deserving of standalone treatment.

Two chapters in We Ride a Whirlwind are devoted to background history taking the narrative up to the first meeting between Sherman and Johnston. From the description: "This set the stage for the dramatic events that occurred at James Bennett's farm in modern-day Durham. In three remarkable meetings, Sherman and Johnston tried to not only set the terms for the surrender of the 91,000 Confederate troops east of the Mississippi River, but to make peace, once and for all. The new administration of President Andrew Johnson, eager for vengeance for the assassination of Lincoln, rejected the terms negotiated by Sherman and Johnston, excoriated Sherman in the press, and forced him to threaten Johnston with the renewal of hostilities if he did not surrender upon the same terms offered to Lee at Appomattox. Johnston wisely accepted those terms, leading to the surrender of his command and those other Confederates east of the Mississippi. This is the story of those events, told in detail, and often in the words of the participants themselves."

The three meetings referenced above are examined in detail in the book along with the "political machinations—both Northern and Southern—that jeopardized the general's work." The volume's epilogue "discusses the memory of those events and gives a brief history of the state park at Bennett Place." Four appendices offer additional documentation and discussion.

1 comment:

  1. Scanning through the Look Inside feature at Amazon, I got more excited than I'm willing to admit over the Footnotes being at the bottom of the page. I understand why publishers don't do it, but I love when they do!

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