National Park College (NPC) associate professor of history Dr. Christopher Thrasher has published his second book entitled Suffering in the Army of Tennessee A Social History of the Confederate Army of the Heartland from the Battles for Atlanta to the Retreat from Nashville. The University of Tennessee Press published the book.
Many writers have weighed in on the momentous 1864 campaign in the west but their works leave an opening. In his famed memoir Co. Aytch, Sam Watkins lamented, “the histories of the Lost Cause are all written out by ‘big bugs,’ generals and renowned historians.” Watkins believed that, despite his humble station in life, he too had a story worth telling and wrote one of the most enduring personal accounts of life in the Confederate Army of Tennessee.
In the decades since Watkins published his work, authors have produced an endless stream of material on the Civil War. However, most of the writing is still produced by and focuses on the “big bugs” rather than ordinary people. “An astute reader can see the flickering ghosts of ordinary men in the great campaign narratives; a quote from a nameless private, a comment on the army’s morale or even a footnote from some mostly ignored diary. Ordinary Confederate soldiers deserve a more prominent place in the story. I hope I have done them justice,” stated Thrasher.
Suffering in the Army of Tennessee tells the story of the Confederate Army of Tennessee’s disastrous fall 1864 campaign from the perspective of ordinary Confederate soldiers. Suffering horribly and pushed to the breaking point they remained with the army as long as victory seemed like it might be just one good fight away, only disintegrating when cold, hunger, and boredom proved more devastating than suicidal charges.
This is Thrasher’s second book to be published. His first book, Fight Sports and American Masculinity: Salvation in Violence from 1607 to the Present, focused on fight sports in the United States and their change over time in response to American culture and the ideals of manhood.
Though it took seven years to research, write and revise Suffering in the Army of Tennessee, Thrasher has already began his third book. It is a social history of another Civil War campaign and will be similar to Suffering in the Army of Tennessee.
“I hope that my book will inspire other people to write. I am no more talented and no smarter than all the other people who daydream about writing a book. I just woke up one day and decided that I was going to do whatever it took for as long as it took to write a book. Seven years later, I know I made the right choice,” said Thrasher.