Saturday, July 30, 2011

David Detzer

From Randy Dotinga's Christian Science Monitor interview with historian David Detzer, author of Donnybrook: The Battle of Bull Run, 1861:

Q: What did the North and South misunderstand about warfare as this battle began?

A: Both sides were innocent, and both sides were clueless about war would be like.

Q: That seems so remarkable. How did they manage to be so out of touch?

A: I've read the kinds of things they’d read about war. The books romanticized things, No book or magazine told of reality at its rawest. They only told of war from the point of view of officers and, occasionally, heroic soldiers.

There were no stories about how the vast majority of people who died in the Mexican War, the previous war that they were familiar with it, died of various diseases without any glory or romance at all.

And two-thirds of the people who died in the Civil War – 400,000 out of 600,000 – would die of disease. They died, but they weren't killed.

When you begin to realize the realities from an up-close perspective, you become awed by how awful and ungenteel war is. None of the things that were written in that era gave that fact justice.

Q: What about US President Abraham Lincoln?

A: He...[read on]
Also see: Ten best novels about the American Civil War.

--Marshal Zeringue