Confederate Courage on Other Fields is an interesting compendium of four separate stories. Three of the stories are from the Eastern Theater, one from the Trans-Mississippi. While I am not sure how I would entitle the book, I do not believe that the title given to the book accurately reflect the contents. Less the chapter about Price’s Raid, the book is about North Carolina soldiers. It is somewhat disparate but still very interesting.
The four stories that are related are very extensively researched and well documented. Excellent images and current-day photos of battle sites add much to the narrative. I am an advocate of always having more maps and but understand the hesitancy of publishers to do so due to costs. However, this book would be enhanced with more maps to improve understanding.
The first chapter begins with the end of the war so the book is not arranged chronologically. The battle of Dinwiddle Courthouse is covered with heavy emphasis on the human dimension of battle —- as are all chapters. Soldiers are not portrayed as faceless numbers but as real people who suffer through horrendous actions. The pathos of battle is described with vignettes including those of a young bugle boy whose father dies in his arms.
The second chapter follows the life of COL C.C. Blacknall, 23rd N.C. Infantry Regiment, who is dies from the effects of a serious wound just a few months before the end of the war. Chapter three jumps to the Trans-Mississippi —- Missouri and the fateful raid by Price’s cavalry corps in the late summer and fall of 1864. Crawford captures the intense feelings borne of war crimes against the populace and how this generated a non-stop partisan warfare against occupying Federal troops. It specifically highlights the revenge and retaliations inflicted by each side. Chapter four is a short, but evocative chapter dealing with soldiers sent to a hospital located in Kittrell’s Springs, North Carolina. It highlights the tragedy of soldiers who not only suffer from battle wounds, but also from disease which killed more soldiers than did bullets during the war.
Confederate Courage on Other Fields provides an interesting view of the war by considering social and personal aspects of the soldiers who fought in it. For readers who enjoy learning about the lives of soldiers and their battlefield experiences without having to slog through entire campaigns or the war, this is an excellent book. For those from North Carolina or Missouri, it should hold a special interest due to the link to the units and places discussed.
Reviewed by Ed Kennedy