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Terrible Swift Sword: The Centennial History…

Terrible Swift Sword: The Centennial History of the Civil War, Volume Two (original 1963; udgave 1963)

af Bruce Catton

MedlemmerAnmeldelserPopularitetGennemsnitlig vurderingOmtaler
837620,168 (4.36)26
This second volume in Bruce Catton's American Civil War trilogy shows how the Union and Confederacy slowly reconciled themselves to all-out war.
Titel:Terrible Swift Sword: The Centennial History of the Civil War, Volume Two
Forfattere:Bruce Catton
Info:Doubleday (1963), Edition: 1st, Hardcover, 559 pages
Samlinger:Dit bibliotek

Work Information

Terrible Swift Sword af Bruce Catton (1963)


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» Se også 26 omtaler

Viser 1-5 af 6 (næste | vis alle)
Tight, comprehensive history is a lost art.
  kencf0618 | May 30, 2021 |
This is the second volume of the Centennial History of the Civil War. I have enjoyed reading all three of the books very much. The author is an excellent writer who I am sure if he had wanted to could have written very good fiction. His books have good dialog and are full of interesting characters. The events described in the books changed the course of life in America. All of the elements of good fiction are present gleaned from years of research.
Catton's writing is rich and full of detail. He is telling an epic tale of a great war and revolutionary changes in society. I find the emphasis in this volume on the social changes taking place. The book ends with the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation. In July of 1861 when the book opened Lincoln was talking about compensated emancipation and colonization. Everyone knew that the slaves would soon be free but racist attitudes still predominated. At the end of the book the war had become a war to end slavery. The Proclamation left room for any state in the Confederacy to end the war and retain slavery but that could never happen.
Another part of the epic story was the relationship between McClellan and Lincoln and the Northern military effort. Lincoln's hopes for McClellan ended when he realized the general "Had a case of the slows". Still the Army loved him. Lincoln once remarked" This is not an army it is the personal body guard of General McClellan."
The rise of Lee from his beginnings in the Seven Days to Second Bull Run was an integral part of the military history. At Second Bull Run John Pope's troops absorbed probably one of Longstreet's greatest smash attacks while the Army of the Potomac looked on. Lee went into Maryland and his Order 191 got lost and found. McClellan had the key to Lee's destruction in his hand and settled for a draw at the Battle of Antietam.
That was enough of a victory for Lincoln to take the Emancipation Proclamation out of his desk where it had waited. Not everyone agreed with emancipation. Major Key of the Army of the Potomac said that the game of the war was to exhaust both armies and make the politicians enter into a compromise that saved slavery. When he repeated that statement in Lincoln's presence he was summarily dismissed from the Army.
This is an excellent series. These books are an unusual combination of incisive analysis and good literature. The topic will always mean something to Americans. At the end of the war the country was on a different path. One, maybe two or three revolutions had taken place transforming America and how it would grow. ( )
1 stem wildbill | Feb 16, 2011 |
This is the second volume in Bruce Catton's three part Centennial History of the Civil War, detailing the events following the First Battle of Bull Run through to the aftermath of the horrifically bloody Battle of Antietam, including the final removal of McClellan from command of the Army of the Potomac. While the first volume was dominated by the politics of the era, this second volume takes place after open hostilities have broken out between the United States and the Confederacy, and as a result substantial attention is given to the military strategies and how they interacted with the politics of both warring nations.

The book covers, for the most part, the period of time that McClellan held command of the Army of the Potomac, and by quoting his arrogant and somewhat delusional letters extensively, demonstrates just how damaging McClellan was to the Union cause in Virginia. To be fair to McClellan, the book also shows how he was instrumental in transforming the chaotic and disorganized Union forces in the Eastern theater into the disciplined and competent Army of the Potomac. In addition, the book demonstrates quite clearly that McClellan's shortcomings as a field commander were not really too severely damaging to the Union cause overall.

For all the press Lee gets as the commander of the Army of Northern Virginia, this book makes clear (even if that is not what Catton intended) that by the time he took command of that army in June 1862, the Confederate cause was likely hopeless. One can make an argument that the Confederate cause was hopeless from the start (a position argued quite well by Richard N. Current in his essay in the book Why the North Won the Civil War), but by June 1862, it is pretty clear that the cause was completely lost. The Union had seized Port Royal and the Carolina Outer Banks, closing down most of the Carolina ports, and had taken New Orleans. West Virginia had been carved away from Virginia. In the west, the Confederacy's chance to turn Missouri into a Confederate state had been lost, and their chance to do the same to Kentucky had also slipped away. The Union controlled both the Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers, and held all of the Mississippi save for that portion of the river around Vicksburg. While the South had been basking in the glory of their victory at Bull Run and found a hero in Robert E. Lee, the North had been busy winning the war.

Catton lays this out step by step, following the course of the war, showing the political realities that drove the men involved, and demonstrating the fates of those who did not recognize, or chose to ignore those political realities (chief among those with a tin ear was McClellan). It also shows how the war transformed from a clash of eager, disorganized militia into a struggle between hardened armies, including showing how McClellan and other commanders were instrumental in transforming the Union forces into professional fighting forces, and how McClellan misused what he had created, as well as showing how Lee was able to take a much less impressive army and bamboozle the ineffectual McClellan. However, the book also gives one the sense that, even though Lee was by nature an aggressive military commander, the risks he took, seen now as brilliant innovative maneuvers, were driven in large part by the fact that he was playing a losing hand, and had to take the extreme long shot gambles he did just to give the Confederacy any chance to win a conflict that it had essentially already lost.

This is a clear, well-written and reasonably comprehensive history of the early years of the central event in U.S. history, and it is a must read for anyone who wants to even begin to consider themselves well-versed on the subject. To a certain extent, this book could be subtitled "The Rise of McClellan and Lee, and the Fall of McClellan", but it also a book about how the enthusiasm and eagerness of the first few months of the war was replaced by a realization of just how hard this war would be, and the effects that this realization engendered. All modern conversations about the Civil War either start with, or are influenced by, Catton's work, and as a result being familiar with this book is almost a necessity.

This review has also been posted to my blog Dreaming About Other Worlds. ( )
2 stem StormRaven | Nov 2, 2008 |
Bruce Catton has certainly done his research especially from the political papers and letters of the times. He does not cover the actual battles with any detail. Most of the book is related to the politics of the time and how it impacted the war. The book provides many reasons for some of the events of the war. ( )
1 stem dhughes | Sep 17, 2007 |
Second of Catton's centennial history of the Civil War. ( )
  stpnwlf | Jul 16, 2007 |
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On the Monday after the battle of Bull Run the Congress of the United States went about its duties in a dignified and abstracted calm.
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Terrible Swift Sword is the second volume in Catton's Centennial History of the Civil War.
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This second volume in Bruce Catton's American Civil War trilogy shows how the Union and Confederacy slowly reconciled themselves to all-out war.

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