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Knoxville 1863 Paperback – February 20, 2010
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Top Customer Reviews
Well done, Dick Stanley.
This is not a novel for the faint-hearted as the battle is described accurately in vivid, brutal, and graphic detail, which to this reviewer, is welcome, as the American Civil War was fought in the backyards, main streets and side alleys of our country, not on staged battlefields.The preparations for conflict, memories of former battles, and the sufferings, starvation, personal losses of the Confederate and Union troops are told by well-drawn characters such as Bird Clark of the Mississippi Confederate Army and by Private Burton Laing, a Scottish immigrant, fighting for the Union with the Cameron Highlanders. A Confederate widow, Leila Ellis, who is actually a Union sympathizer, plays a convincing role throughout the novel. This book is a must-read for all who consider themselves interested in the tragic history of the American Civil War.
Union Engineers constructed several bastioned earthwork fortifications around Knoxville. One of these was Fort Sanders. Directly west of town, it was a salient in the line of earthworks which surrounded Knoxville on three sides. The fort was protected by a ditch that was twelve feet wide and eight feet deep with a vertical wall of red clay that rose nearly fifteen feet above the ditch.
It is during this time and at this place that Dick Stanley has set his second book, the appropriately named novel, "Knoxville 1863." Mr. Stanley has taken a unique approach to telling the story of Longstreet's failed attack on Fort Sanders. His narrative follows the linear chronology of the attack on and defense of the fort, but the story is told from several different view points: inside and outside the fort, civilian and soldier, from both the Union and Confederate points of view. This method of storytelling is both the novel's greatest asset, as well as its greatest weakness, as it gives Mr. Stanley's readers a multilayered understanding of what is happening at all points, but there is no one central character to follow through the narrative, which can overwhelm and loose its reader.
In his afterward, Mr. Stanley, takes the time to point out the real historical characters and summarizes what became of them. He also includes a brief discussion of the sources he used in researching the novel. Mr. Stanley has certainly done his homework; his novel rests on a solid foundation of historical facts. It is well written & a joy to read.
The book is written in short sections told in first person by various characters, including a Confederate widow who favors the North. While I liked seeing the siege and the battle from different viewpoints, I sometimes had trouble keeping the characters straight and would have liked one strong main character--in addition to the others--to tie the story together.
The battle itself, taking place after a siege of the city, is terrible, especially for the Confederates. Confederate General Longstreet was lured into attacking Fort Sanders at a point that looked weak and easy to breach. However, the Union soldiers had built a trap consisting of tree stumps, wires, and a deep ditch the Confederates couldn't climb out of. Then the Union side attacked with a variety of deadly weapons. Hundred of southern soldiers were killed in the ensuing battle.
The description of the siege and the battle are graphic. The scene describing the burial of the dead Confederate soldiers is the most sad and memorable. Other details, even the small ones, help the reader to understand the hardships during the Civil War and bring an appreciation for what a horror it is to fight in a war. Exposure to all weather conditions, hunger and thirst, infestation by insects, lack of adequate clothing, exhaustion, no shoes, poor leadership, poor sanitary facilities, primitive medical care, and horrific weapons are vividly described by the author and help bring the story to life.
I totally enjoyed this book and will read more of this author's work.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
NOTE: This review was originally published in Red Adept Reviews on April 17, 2011.
Overall: 4 3/4 stars
Plot/Storyline: 4 3/4 stars
In the fall... Read more
I thoroughly enjoyed 'Knoxville 1863.' I don't consider myself a Civil War buff, but have always liked to read well-written accounts about the War Between the States and, in this... Read morePublished on October 28, 2010 by Chuck Adams
OK so maybe my review title is a bit of overkill. This is a good book though.
Fellow blogger Dick Stanley was nice enough for send me a copy of his historical fiction... Read more
Knoxville 1863 is a must-read for Civil War buffs wanting to relive the experiences of the various factions involved in this battle. Read morePublished on September 3, 2010 by Mckendree Long
Knoxville 1863 deals with the Battle of Fort Sanders, November 29, 1963. One of a number of battles in the Knoxville Campaign, a small number of Union troops occupying the high... Read morePublished on August 1, 2010 by Al Past
My wife and I had been on car trips. She read Knoxville 1863 aloud as we journeyed. We both enjoyed it. The novel makes that awful conflict very present and real. Read morePublished on July 30, 2010 by Virginian
My Goodness! I don't usually read about the Civil War and I don't read battlefield books at all. However, I highly recommend this book about a civil war battle fought in... Read morePublished on July 3, 2010 by Californian
I really enjoyed reading Dick Stanley's Knoxville 1863. I felt like I was there from from his description of the actions of the soldiers in both armies those fateful days. Read morePublished on June 30, 2010 by Amazon Customer
The American Civil War began nearly a hundred and fifty years ago and ended after four years of savage fighting. Read morePublished on June 28, 2010 by Celia Hayes