Originally stationed in Missouri and Kentucky, the unit helped to maintain Union control of border slave states that had not joined the Confederacy. During the middle years of the war, the Seventh protected rail lines and raided into Confederate-held areas of Tennessee and Alabama. Ambrose vividly depicts the ravages of war as the Seventh Illinois tracked and fought rebel raiders, partisans, and guerrillas. Illustrating the chilling relationship between violence and daily army life, Ambrose describes Northern soldiers who, initially reluctant to pillage and forage the South, grew hardened to brutality and unrepentantly destroyed towns and plantations.
The Seventh's bloodiest battles took place at Shiloh and at Allatoona Pass, where the unit played a crucial role in Union victories. The infantry also fought throughout the prolonged campaigns around Corinth. It saw the sea at Savannah, witnessed the burning of Columbia, and marched through the heart of the Confederacy before ending the war in North Carolina. Throughout this highly textured account, Ambrose searingly portrays the confusion of battle and the fierce loyalty to fallen comrades as he details the heroism and sacrifice of his fellow soldiers.
Exposing an aspect of the War Between the States many readers will find unfamiliar, this book demonstrates how the unbridled and unexpectedly brutal nature of guerrilla fighting profoundly affected the tactics and strategies of the larger, conventional war. The reasons for the rise and popularity of guerrilla warfare, particularly in the South and lower Midwest, are examined, as is the way each side dealt with its consequences. Guerrilla warfare's impact on the outcome of the conflict is analyzed as well. Finally, the role of memory in shaping history is touched on in an epilogue that explores how veteran Civil War guerrillas recalled their role in the war.
Sutherland’s account of the war is unlike any other. Both a military and a social history, it details the life of a single Confederate community without losing sight of the titanic struggle of a nation divided. It allows readers to join the councils of Lee and Grant while sharing the letters of young couples separated by war. We frolic with the fun-loving Jeb Stuart, experience the confused terror of men in battle, feel the anguish of civilians surrounded by contending armies, observe the tensions between neighbors with different loyalties, and sense the joy of liberated slaves.
Written in a daring style that thrusts readers into the vortex of war, Seasons of War tells the story of a place and a nation. It is a tale by turns heroic and mean, hopeful and bleak, humorous and grave. It is a story of the American people—Northern and Southern, white and black, free and unfree—at the defining hour of their history.