Personalities in the story may not trigger the visceral reaction attached to William Tecumseh Sherman, the Union general who vowed to “make Georgia howl” and then did. But even “Cump” Sherman had complications and complexities of personality and experience that are compelling. Thousands of similar individuals existed as well.
Can the Civil War sustain itself for generations?
If we remember that the diversions of youth and the demands of early adulthood regarding families and employment were true for many of us, too, before we came to a closer connection with history, and that the stories include human beings of all races and genders who experienced these difficult times and often sacrificed so much to endure them, then we will recognize the value that remains in examining these events.
Fresh eyes and interpretations promise to reinvigorate interest in the Atlanta Campaign and the March to the Sea. In a way, that will demonstrate the vibrancy and vitality of Civil War history, especially to those who might not notice otherwise or who believe their stories are not caught up in this one.
Your story is there. You have only to find it.
Brian S. Wills is director of the Civil War Center at Kennesaw State University.