Thomas Heard Robertson, Jr., ed.
Savas Beatie, 2015, 168 pp. + 18 pp. Introduction, $26.95
Image courtesy of amazon.com
There are a great many primary sources concerning members of the Confederate army fighting against Sherman during the infamous Atlanta Campaign of 1864. This book is different from those in that the journal details the fight for the Carolinas during 1865 and while there are other works which are from a surgeon’s point of view, this diary is handled with great editorial finesse. Resisting Sherman is taken from the journal of Francis Marion Robertson and not only gives a great human element to the war, but details the last few months of the war which have largely been ignored in the annals of Civil War history. It is fitting that such a work be released during the last year of the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War to celebrate its ending.
While the journal is told from the perspective of Francis Marion Robertson, Thomas Heard Robertson, Jr., is the direct descendant of the surgeon and has edited this work with extensive footnotes and pertinent information. He is the president of the Cranston Engineering Group, P.C. of Augusta, Georgia. He practices civil engineering, city planning and land surveying while being an active historian and preservationist. He was instrumental in designating the Augusta Canal National Heritage Area which he testified four times before Congress to make it happen. While Resisting Sherman is his first full length work, he has written many papers and is a popular speaker.
One of the things which I greatly enjoyed about Resisting Sherman, was the gravitas which the narrative helped to establish. The whole book opens with a statement on the fall of Charleston later going into the ideals of home becoming the battlefield. This prologue is written by the editor and helps the reader with information they may not have known before reading the work. When the journal comes into the text, not only can you grasp the scenes which Robertson has described, but you can feel the humanity in his words. There have been too many biographies on leaders in the Civil War which takes all of the humanity out of a person. Here, in this journal, you can sense the danger of what was going on. Robertson even talks about the overall need for goods in the south like coffee. But my greatest appreciation for this work comes in the form of the battles in the Carolinas during the last few months of the war. Thomas Robertson supplements details of the battles and conflicts either in footnotes or in other sections altogether. When it comes to the reading of the final months of the war and Sherman’s actions, this journal will be seen as essential to the study.
I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in Sherman’s army during the last year of the war and any Civil War historian interested in the last year of the war overall. The detail which both the author and the editor put into this work is fantastic and should be praised for their work. Resisting Sherman fills in the gaps which other historians have ignored over the years. Most people consider the end of the war when General Lee surrendered. This book helps to eliminate those thoughts and it is welcomed in the realm of Civil War academia.