Destined to become as controversial as the battle itself, River Run Red is sure to appeal to readers of other works of popular fiction about the war.


Like MODERN MEDEA this book is a mixture of a few facts fitted into a predetermined framework to justify a predetermined conclusion. Expecting the modern tradition that begins with the brothers Catton and ends [we should be so fortunate] with McPherson to give anything like a balanced view of the war between the states is like expecting to find Thucydides cheering on the Persians – the latter may have its virtues as literature but neither ranks very highly as history.

River run red : the Fort Pillow massacre in the American Civil War       Andrew Ward Fort Pillow Battle of Tenn. 1864 New York : Viking, c 2005 Hardcover. 1st ed. and printing. xxiii, 531 p. : ill., maps ; 25 cm.  Includes bibliographical references (p. [495]-518) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

On April 12, 1864, a force of Confederate cavalry under Nathan Bedford Forrest galloped across West Tennessee to storm Fort Pillow on the Mississippi River, overwhelming a garrison of some 350 renegade unionists and over 300 armed slaves turned artillerymen. By the next day, hundreds of union sympathizers were dead or wounded, more than 60 blacks had been captured, and more than 100 unionists had been marched off to Andersonville. Confederates called this bloody battle and its aftermath a hard-won victory. Northerners deemed it premeditated slaughter. To this day, Fort Pillow remains one of the most controversial battles in American history.

River Run Red vividly depicts the incompetence and corruption of Union occupation in Tennessee, the horrors of guerrilla warfare, and the pent-up  rage at previous union atrocities that found its release at Fort Pillow. Andrew Ward brings to life the garrison’s black troops and their ambivalent white comrades, and the intrepid Confederate cavalrymen who rode with Nathan Bedford Forrest.

The result is a fast-paced narrative that hurdles toward that fateful April day and beyond to establish Fort Pillow’s true significance in the annals of American history.

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