Book Review: Tennessee in the Civil War: Selected Contemporary Accounts of Military and Other Events, Month by Month

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by James B. Jones Jr.

Jefferson, NC: Mcfarland, 2011. Pp. vi, 286. Notes, biblio., index. $39.95 paper.. ISBN: 0786461292

In Tennessee in the Civil War, Jones, who has written several works on the state’s history, gives us an intimate look at life in “The Volunteer State” during the great struggle.

Jones has drawn upon numerous different types of documents, such as official reports, court records, diaries, letters, and newspapers, to create this work.  The accounts of military events are often interesting and sometimes throw new light on some actions or problems.  But while important, they are not the best part of the book.  What’s really valuable in Tennessee in the Civil War is what’s found in the “Other Events”.  That phrase covers a wonderful variety of things.  There are ads touting medicines, recruiting substitutes, and the contemporary version of “SWF seeks SWM”, there are accounts of criminal activity, the comings, and goings of the famous (even John Wilkes Booth makes an appearance), women found in men’s clothing (fine, $6), bar-room brawls, wife beaters sent to jail, murders, politics both local and national, vandals, revival meetings and cotillons, prices, social events, and more, essentially giving us a taste of people trying to carry on with ordinary day-to-day life in the midst of the war.  These make Tennessee in the Civil War not only a very pleasant work to dip at random, but also a very useful guide to the complexities and nuances of life in a front line state during the period.

This is a volume that will prove rewarding, informative, and amusing reading for anyone interested in the Civil War.

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Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor   


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