Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Book Review - By the Noble Daring of Her Sons: The Florida Brigade of the Army of Tennessee

Guest Review by Zack C. Waters

By the Noble Daring of Her Sons: The Florida Brigade of the Army of Tennessee
Author: Jonathan C. Sheppard
University of Alabama Press

Jonathan C. Sheppard introduces us to George Hartsfield in the opening line of his book, By the Noble Daring of Her Sons. The illiterate Cracker farmer, who owned no slaves and scratched a meager living from a hardscrabble farm, had already survived the horrible bloodletting at Perryville, Kentucky. Hartsfield’s luck ran out at Murfreesboro, Tennessee on the 1st day of January, 1863. He was buried in an unmarked grave in Middle Tennessee.

The record of the Florida Confederates who endured combat in the Army of the Heartland (in other words, those who did not fight in Virginia or in “The Land of Flowers”) closely resembles that of George Hartsfield. They fought hard, won few victories, and were quickly forgotten.

With the nation celebrating the 150th anniversary of our Civil War, the Florida troops, who served in Tennessee, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, and North Carolina, have finally found a worthy historian to tell their story.

By the Noble Daring of Her Sons provides a wonderful account of the battles the Floridians fought, from Shiloh to Nashville, but even more interesting is the cast of characters we meet along the way. Samuel Pasco, for example, was born in England, raised in Canada and Massachusetts, and sent by Harvard University to teach school in Jefferson County, Florida two years prior to war. The teacher joined the Confederate army with his students, served until captured at Missionary Ridge, and despite the pleading of his family (who had the clout to have him released), endured fifteen months of horror at the Federal prison of Camp Morton. He would become a political heavyweight in postwar Florida, even having a county named for him.

Equally intriguing is Colonel D. L. Kenan, a lowly wheelwright, who led the Florida boys in their final fight of the war, losing his leg (to amputation) only thirty miles from his home town. In this highly readable book, the reader meets a host of interesting characters who will bring the units and the men who served them to life.

I highly recommend By the Noble Daring of Her Sons. Well-written and researched, it reveals again the truth that history can be fun, and that, despite a million-plus books on the well-worn topic of the War Between the States, there is a great deal that we don’t know about the defining point in our national history.

This was the battle flag of the Florida Independent Blues, Company B, 3rd Florida Infantry.  The regiment was formed near Pensacola in July, 1861.  They fought at Perryville, Murfreesboro, Jackson, Chickamauga, and Bentonville.  The carnage to this small company of Florida troops was horrendous, and few were left to surrender in April, 1865.

Zack C. Waters is an acclaimed author of many articles about the Civil War.  His latest book, A Small But Spartan Band: The Florida Brigade in Lee's Army of Northern Viriginia, became an instant classic and won the coveted Charlton Tebeau Award for best book on Florida history in 2011.

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