New Book Sheds Light On Civil War

ATLANTA---A new book out this summer puts the spotlight on a terrible time in American history. A time when Americans fought each other, killed each other by the thousands and left the South in ruins.

The book is called "The Bonfire, The Siege And Burning Of Atlanta."

Marc Wortman is the author, and he knows he's retelling a familiar story.

"Well, to me, the story of Atlanta as lived by the people of Atlanta has never really been told, except in fiction."

And what better place to tell the story than the Civil War exhibit at the Atlanta History Center. But get ready to have your sense of history shattered.

"General Sherman loved the south. I know for many Southerners, that's hard to believe."

In 'Bonfire', Wortman paints a picture of an almost sympathetic Sherman who spent years living in the south and took it hard when southern states left the union to become the Confederate States of America.

"He loved the South and when secession came, he did weep."

"Despite his feelings for the South, and his feelings for the South were genuine and deep, he sided with the Union and then eventually did all he could to kill the Confederate army."

Wortman also writes about life in Atlanta during the war. How most people living here never thought the war would actually make it this far south. They were wrong.

"Here, Sherman was being disingenuous. He said there's no civilians left in the city, we won't harm any civilians. Well, there were people screaming out under 5 thousand shells a day."

'Bonfire' also describes a class of skilled slaves who actually managed to prosper during the war by moving freely between their Confederate captors and the Union soldiers captured by the Confederates.

"These slaves actually became currency arbitragers. They were people who were exchanging money between the 2 sides and making money off that exchange and a small number of them actually became rich during the war."

After years spent researching and writing "The Bonfire," Mac Wortman also gained an appreciation for the Confederate soldiers will to keep fighting.

"The Confederate army defended itself brilliantly. It defended a home territory against overwhelming forces. At the same time, the Confederate army didn't know when to say when."

And 145 years after that terrible summer, the war is still seems to have a life of its own.

"Lets talk about the south today, a place where Confederate flags aren't just flown in museums and basements, they're flying in people's front yards, still."

Well, I can understand taking pride in that heritage. That said, we have to understand we're one nation. The Civil War demonstrated that, it was forged in blood. We're one nation indissoluble and that union is permanent. And anybody who holds up the confederate flag to say
"well, we're a pretend nation, I think is making a bad mistake."

"The Bonfire" also describes one last visit by General Sherman. It's something you won't find in many history books. The Union General came back to Atlanta 15 years after leaving it in ashes. The man who brought war to the South was welcomed at the train by the mayor who gave Sherman and his wife and daughters a tour of the city.

"The Bonfire--- The Siege and Burning of Atlanta" is in bookstores this summer.


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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by Matt Location: NC on Aug 31, 2009 at 09:07 PM
    Long live the war in our hearts and long live the flag!
  • by matt Location: NC on Aug 27, 2009 at 08:51 PM
    Then so be it abe....then so be it. I personally don't eat out anyway. I don't need you to teach me how to eat or live. Kick rocks yankee.
  • by southern man Location: CSA on Aug 27, 2009 at 08:24 PM
    Abe sounds like you were in Jane's class.Most of your restaurants are like our countries schools awful.the government dumbs our children down through the schools they change our history so that from generation to generation more is lost.WHY DON'T WE EVER HERE ABOUT THE WHITE SLAVES OF THE CIVIL WAR.Change and take what they may the one thing they will NEVER get is our southern pride. Matt get one for us all.
  • by Abe Location: New York City, N.Y. on Aug 26, 2009 at 09:38 PM
    Hello Matt- If it was not for yankee money $$$$$ the only good restaurant you would have in North Carolina would be KFC
  • by Enzo Location: N.J. on Aug 26, 2009 at 07:35 PM
    Hi Matt -- You want to kill some yankees. Why don't you come to Jersey City, New Jersey. Me Tony,Sal,Veto,Angelo & Mario would like to show you the Pine Barrens.
  • by Matt Location: nc on Aug 26, 2009 at 05:47 PM
    I fight with the 1st NC. The battle of Fort Branch is coming up the first weekend of November (near Hamilton). Can't wait to kill some yankees.
  • by T Location: Washington on Aug 26, 2009 at 01:38 PM
    Looking forward to the book. My friend, who happens to be a school teacher, questioned several students when the Civil War occured. Get this, two students, at the same time said June 1999. The other students could not even answer the question. Point being, these young kids have no concept regarding how important American history is. Guess they are more concerned about texting, play stations, and other meaningless crap.
  • by Obama Snake Oil co Location: Washington on Aug 26, 2009 at 12:45 PM
    Wolfgang, my brother and is two sons to the reinactments and have been to Gettysburg to do one. He does the battles dressing in blue and gray depending on the needs of the battle. If you haven't been to one, they have them all over NC and Virgina as well as different states. Russ and Mr T, those are both true statements and keep in mind, buying amumition right now is hard. The demand is high along with price. Most people feel like taxation without representation right now. Tea Parties? When the president spends in 8 months, 9 trillion dollars, more then Bill and George in both terms, who is going to pay it back?
  • by jr Location: bath on Aug 26, 2009 at 11:34 AM
    let's not argue with terrific. arguing with him is like arguing with a bug: if you win, people will say so what. if you lose, they will say you can't outthink a bug. (thanks, walt kelly, for that one!)
  • by pete Location: grifton on Aug 26, 2009 at 09:22 AM
    Well MR Terrific digest this. there are now 4 states that have declared their Sovereignty(Texas,Montana,Utah,Oklahoma) with more to follow rumored to be north and south Carolina,Kentucky,West Virgina and Tenn.The people are tired of 3 or 4 states running the country.people are tired of socialist America and I predict war right hear within 2 years.our so called government knows this and are trying to recruit internment and relocation officers right now if you don't believe it then go here and read it for yourself www.goarmy.com look under jobs then descriptions.And by the way it was the war of northern aggression.
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