I recently received a review copy of the new book, “The Confederate Heartland: Military and Civilian Morale in the Western Confederacy.” The author, Bradley R. Clampitt, is an assistant professor of history at East Central University in Oklahoma. Based on a cursory search of Amazon.com, this is Clampitt’s first full length book. Published by one of my favorite university publishers, LSU Press, the book has a handsome cover and is as well made, as one would expect for a $40 book. It should be noted, this book covers the period of time from January 1864 through the time right after the cessation of hostilities.
Being a longtime student of Civil War in the Western Theater, I am always interested in learning more about the armies, soldiers, civilians and press coverage in the heartland. Having received this book prior to the Christmas, I looked forward to diving into it after the holidays. The wait was worthwhile. Clampitt has created a real gem in this book. His research is impeccable and he obviously spent a great deal of time uncovering the huge quantity of letters, diaries and newspaper accounts he references throughout the entire book. Like most scholars, the author retains the punctuation, misspellings and slang the writers used in their journals, diaries and letters. This makes the read quite enjoyable and I found myself chuckling, more than once, as I read the solders’ accounts of life in camp.
I found Chapter 6, “November-December 1864: Sunset at Franklin,” particularly interesting. This chapter covers the events in central Tennessee that culminated in the battles of Franklin and Nashville. Clampitt makes a great case for this two month period of time, and the Battle of Franklin in particular, as being the death knell of the Confederacy. More than any other battle, Franklin destroyed the Army of Tennessee and, for the most part, permanently removed the threat that army posed to U.S. generals George H. Thomas and William T. Sherman’s forces. While the morale, confidence and support of the western Confederacy remained high throughout much of the war, the Franklin-Nashville Campaign caused a deterioration in support for the war effort in the heartland.
For any of my readers interested in learning more about the final eighteen months of the war in the Western Theater, I highly recommend this book. It is a quick paced read and is very enjoyable. Congratulations to Mr. Clampitt on a wonderful book.
Details about “The Confederate Heartland: Military and Civilian Morale in the Western Confederacy”
Written by: Bradley R. Clampitt
Hardcover: 256 pages
Publisher: LSU Press
Date of First Edition: December 12, 2011