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In a Dark Wood by Charles McNair M.D.

In a Dark Wood

by Charles McNair M.D.

474 pages
This is a novel about the Battle of the Wilderness fought over three days in May, 1864. It was a bloody encounter costing 29,000 casualties. It was the first battle commanded by U S Grant and Robert E Lee and was the first battle of modern warfare.

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Category: Fiction:Historical:American Civil War
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About the Book
"In a Dark Wood" is a novel of the civil war battle that has come to be called "The Battle of the Wilderness." Fought in early May, 1864, it was a contest between the legendary Southern general, Robert E. Lee and the relatively unknown Union general, Ulysses S. Grant.

Lincoln, frustrated by his previous generals' failures against Lee, brought Grant east after his successes along the Mississippi. Lincoln was less concerned about Grant's rumored drinking and more about his reputation as a tenacious fighter. Every other general who went up against Lee was beaten and either retreated to lick their wounds or were timid in pursuit such as Meade after Gettysburg.

Lincoln hoped for more from Grant.

Three Union soldiers: a cavalryman, Ben Davis, an artillerist, Joseph Hanover and a medical orderly, Mathias Aiken are swept into the battle. They oppose three Confederate soldiers: two infantry men from North Carolina, Amos Parcher and Daniel McKettrick, and a deadly sharpshooter, Jason Claiborne armed with the lethal Whitworth rifle. The vital roles played by the arms carried into this battle and their effects explain how a battle and a war can turn on the difference between the Union Sharps and Spencer rifles versus the Confederate Enfield rifle.

This was not a battle of valiant soldiers, arrayed in stirring formations stepping off into glory. This was an infantryman's fight: man against man, fought in impenetrable woods, obscured by smoke, the soldiers rarely seeing their enemy but rather firing blindly towards flame and noise.

The woods were covered with the dry leaf fall and tangled thickets. The dead and wounded fell unnoticed amongst the vegetation and the bones of Hooker's Union army lost at Chancellorsville on some of the same ground the year before. Fires, easily ignited by the gunfire, consumed without favor, the fallen Union and Confederate soldiers. The battle would cost a total of 29,000 of them in less than three days.

In the midst of this carnage, love grew between a beautiful Union nurse, Braith Glyn and the medical orderly, Mathias Aiken, clinging to each other for their very lives. Amos Parcher's sister, Sally, nursed the wounded Daniel McKettrick back to health after his wounding and into a life together after the war.

The Civil War was the first modern, total war. Grant understood what a war of attrition meant and how to fight it. Ignoring the politicians' cries of "On to Richmond", Grant made Lee's Army of Northern Virginia his target. The Battle of the Wilderness was his opening thrust at the heart of that army, which would be finally killed a year later at Appomattox.


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About the Author
Charles McNair was born in California, received his medical degree from UC San Francisco. He practiced medicine in Connecticut for thirty-five years. He is the author of "Soldiers of a Foreign War" set in Vietnam. His next novel is about the battle of the Huertgen Forest in WWII.



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