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Burke Davis (1913–2006)

Författare till Our Incredible Civil War

39 verk 3,792 medlemmar 36 recensioner

Om författaren

Burke Davis is the author of Gray Fox, They Called Him Stonewall, Jeb Stuart: The Last Cavalier and many other books. He lives in Meadows-of-Dan, Virginia and Greensboro, NC
Foto taget av: Findagrave


Verk av Burke Davis

Our Incredible Civil War (1960) 849 exemplar
Sherman's March (1980) 346 exemplar
Marine! (1962) 323 exemplar
They Called Him Stonewall (1954) — Författare — 281 exemplar
Jeb Stuart : The Last Cavalier (1957) 272 exemplar
The Long Surrender (1985) 206 exemplar
King Snake (1975) 49 exemplar
Get Yamamoto (1969) 45 exemplar
The Billy Mitchell affair (1967) 41 exemplar


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If you think you know about the Civil War, you're wrong. Call it the War of the Rebellion if you would like, but what has survived, as in many wars, is not usually the first hand accounts of people who were there, since traumatized veterans are frequently reluctant to relive their experiences through the retelling of events they witnessed. The award winning books by southern-born writers such as Margaret Mitchell and Robert Penn Warren tell great tales, but reality was not always aligned with the story they told. I started to discover discrepancies in my beliefs about the war and the antebellum south when I was doing historical research in North Carolina, Virginia, Georgia and Alabama. While I have not read Burke Davis' biographies of Southern Civil War notables, he worked hard to acquire researching and writing skills along with his credentials. I am familiar with the places he lived and with his family lineage. I have to respect this phenomenal work.

But back to the book. It is an easy read with short paragraphs laid out in mostly chronological order, as related by Union soldiers, Confederate soldiers, child couriers and civilians. There are also reports by newspaper reporters, telegraphed and written letters, and war correspondence. Helpful maps in the front showing the lines of attack are well done and note-taking is allowed if you don't know the difference between Generals Sheridan and Sherman or Lee and Jackson. An index in the back is also great for finding particular people, places or events. These windows into history also give us glimpses into the real character and personalities of Jefferson Davis, Robert E Lee, General Sheridan and George Custer. I found these most enlightening. There are accounts from the "Negro Troops" who fought valiantly on both sides, North and South, and details about the artillery and plans of attack that are just detailed enough to hold interest and inform, giving us the understanding and appreciation that military strategy is more than finding enough people to line up and face off against each other. While Sherman has the reputation for being the one man who laid waste to the southern states, the fall of Richmond details how destruction and looting by the residents was more devastating. I was also surprised by the many good reports from southerners as to how they were treated at capture although I am sure that those who were not treated well may not have lived to tell the tale.

With Union armies approaching, fleeing residents saved what was most dear to them, their family, a soup tureen, silverware, a carved bust and other artwork, and left behind what wasn't important, furniture, slaves, a wife. The several Confederate armies in the fight knew what was needed to fight another day, but with supply chains cut, food was running low. The Confederate soldiers were starving but kept fighting, burning and destroying everything behind them, bridges, wagons, roads and houses to slow down the enemy advance. The Union army knew they had to bring the fight to an end quickly if they could, by catching up to them on one side and cutting them off on another, all the while maintaining their own supply chain of food and ammunition. Scouts and spies play a role in the drama. Two teenage boys who were caught by the Confederates told their captor that they knew what the consequences would be if they were caught. This war included children fighting on both sides.

The people at the center of the tempest are not forgotten. One master tells his slave that he is free and "just as rich as I am right now." The man "cried pitifully...and sent his love to [his owner's] wife". Another man "...appeared at the [train] depot with a shuffling line of fifty slaves, their ankles chained". When the man was not allowed on the train due to there being no room in the escaping throng, he was forced to unlock them and " the scattering of $50,000.00 worth of property, perhaps the last batch of salable slaves in the nation." Many slaves took the opportunity to celebrate, abandoning household belongings they had been left behind to guard and indulging in whatever food and libations remained in the houses of fleeing residents who didn't care enough to bring their servants along with them to safety.

Not to be overlooked is a great supporting cast of characters. General Grant's brilliant aide, Colonel Eli Parker, an Indian (Native American) whose good humor and intelligence are noted briefly. General Lee's sons fought in the war and President Lincoln's sons and wife accompanied him offshore on a ship that monitored the events closer to the fighting. There was chivalry and respect, and food given to starving Confederate soldiers, sometimes in spite of orders given to the commissary. When one group of Union soldiers taunted their captives, the officer told his men that they had fought well, deserved respect, and if his own troops had been as good, they would have ended the battle days earlier.

There are so many stories in every cataclysmic event, but luckily for us, Burke Davis did the work and collected them for us. I highly recommend this book to anyone if you have even the most remote interest in American history. There is some death to be sure, it is about war and our nation's bloodiest war fought on our own soil, but the appeal is that it does not glorify the gore and brutality so much that it is impossible to get through the compelling narratives.
… (mer)
PhyllisHarrison | 1 annan recension | Jan 28, 2024 |
Despite the title, these strange and fascinating facts may interest Civil War buffs, and not many others. Davis, the author of several history books, takes the little stories and factoids he has collected in research and puts them all here in small anecdotes. To appreciate the value of these stories, the reader should have more than a passing knowledge of the Civil War. Many names, dates, and battles are tossed around by an author who knows his subject, and requires his readers to know some, too.

The stories here are very entertaining, covering various subjects. The Civil War was full of "firsts," first: successful submarine, hospital ships, tobacco and cigarette taxes, and U.S. presidential assassination. The book also mentions Confederate States president Jefferson Davis more than Abraham Lincoln, possibly because Davis is barely a footnote in high school history books today. Stonewall Jackson, Ulysses Grant, and Robert E. Lee are also profiled. One entertaining chapter debunks many myths surrounding Grant's drunken war behavior. Davis also gets serious, writing about widespread venereal disease, and atrocities committed on civilians, on both sides.

Davis' book was published in 1960, and the publishers decided to reprint the book many times without updating it. Davis mentions the upcoming centennial of the war, and descendants of the major figures of the war and what they are doing today, or at least today many decades ago. Another drawback is the lack of an index, leaving a serious researcher to have to skim the book looking for useful information. The author mentions prices for Civil War memorabilia at current auction prices- again from many decades ago. Davis writes that more people lost their lives in the Civil War than in all the wars from the Revolution to our most current conflict- Korea. I will recommend this book as a cursory page turner. As a displaced Texan who descends from Confederate soldiers, I appreciated Davis' balanced view of both sides of the conflict. Too often today we lose sight of the fact that over 600,000 people lost their lives in this war, and not many people know much about it.
… (mer)
Charles_T_Tatum_Jr | 5 andra recensioner | Nov 5, 2023 |
A detailed account of Uncle Billy making Georgia howl in 1864. I found parts of it fascinating, Sherman was a complex man to say the least. I had ancestors who marched with the 54th Indiana and the details of camp life and the march itself were intriguing. A lot of anecdotes, especially of virtuous rebels defying Yankee invaders, with just a whiff of "Lost Cause' baloney. Or should I say "hardtack", as baloney was not a standard ration? And if Sherman made Georgia howl then he made South Carolina scream ... this was a part of the campaign rarely surfaced - his continuation of the campaign through the Carolinas. Well written but very disjointed in places. It does have a complete bibliography and is indexed, which is helpful with the names especially.… (mer)
dhaxton | 5 andra recensioner | Sep 21, 2023 |
"Chesty" Puller was a very good soldier. Burke Davis wrote a very readable biography and a pleasant time was created. Admittedly, the comfort was mostly of the "Glad I wasn't there" type but the combination of the career, circumstances and presentation are fortuitous. Leaving Office Candidate school in 1918, he enlisted as a Marine rifleman , but the war ended before he saw combat. However he volunteered for service in Haiti, and spent the next 37 years in military service, and died as a Lieutenant General, after fighting in Korea.… (mer)
DinadansFriend | 7 andra recensioner | Jan 21, 2023 |



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