Lisa Tendrich Frank
Louisiana State University Press, 2015, 238 pp., $42.50
Image courtesy of amazon.com
When it comes to the study of Sherman’s March to the Sea, there have been many analyses on the civilians during these encounters with the Union army. One thing which I found interesting about The Civilian War, was that the entire study was devoted to the ways in which the women of Georgia and the South encountered the Union army. Lisa Tendrich Frank has brought new information to solidify the writings within her work. The result is a very thought provoking work which not only involves those within the subtitle, but the rest of the participants as well.
Lisa Tendrich Frank is the author and editor of many Civil War works, many of which include the civilian aspect of the Civil War. Some of her works are Women in the American Civil War and the soon to be released The World of the Civil War: A Daily Life Encyclopedia. She received her Ph.D. in history from the University of Florida. She has also taught at colleges and universities around the country. The Civilian War is part of the Conflicting Worlds collection printed by the Louisiana State University Press which prides itself on printing some of the most excellent works on the American Civil War.
There is an image cultivated in the minds of people when the March to the Sea is mentioned. Most prominently is the image of the carnage within the city of Atlanta from the Union army, but Frank does not remain on that topic. She brings forward some interesting pieces of information which change the ideals of what women did in order to protect their homes. Frank makes one statement that most Union soldiers expected women to act like ladies when their homes were being ransacked and burned to the ground. Frank’s analyses on the types of behavior which women brought about because of this is fascinating and brings a new light to the March to the Sea. The book also goes to point out that some of these large homes were targets by Sherman and his army since Sherman, himself, blamed slaveholders for secession. This would lead to the behavioral study which Frank brings about in this work. Frank also does not bog down the book with heavy military documents, but brings about the human side to the war. This is where many books on the March to the Sea eventually fail when trying to talk about the civilians experience with Sherman, but here in The Civilian War, Frank succeeds in bringing us a thrilling narrative and study about the women of the South and their interactions with Union soldiers.
I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in Sherman’s March to the Sea, or anyone interested in the Civilian life during the entire war. This study not only brings about new thought to Sherman’s March to the Sea, but it makes readers think about the whole operation. It shows what some of these women had to do in order to survive and make their voice heard. The narrative is thrilling and the research is amazing. Overall, this is one not to be missed.