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Three Days in Hell is a novel, a work of fiction, based on actual historical events. The characters, with one exception, were all real people. The words they speak throughout the story are the author's, the deeds they did, their success and failures, are their own. Drawing on many years of meticulous research, Blair Howard dramatizes one man's contribution to the stunning Confederate victory at Chickamauga. Brigadier General Bushrod R. Johnson was the key player for the army in gray.
This is the story of Confederate General Johnson's three days at Chickamauga, and his grand and glorious charge of more than a mile that smashed through the enemy lines and resulted in a resounding victory for the Confederate cause and an ignominious defeat for General Rosecrans. Even Johnson's enemies praised what he did that day. Some compared it to Pickett's Charge at Gettysburg, but where Pickett failed, Johnson succeeded.
Three Days in Hell, action-packed from start to finish, is the story of Confederate General Bushrod Johnson's Chickamauga as told through the eyes and words of one of his staff officers, Major Chester Rigby. The author takes you onto the battlefield as no one has done before. He plunges you right into the center of the action, which doesn't let up until the very end. It's a story of heroism, desperate deeds, and death and destruction on a scale the likes of which had never been seen before.
If you have any interest at all in the Civil War and its battles, this is a book that should be on your Want to Read list. Mr. Howard really makes the characters come alive and gives the reader an idea of what the battle was really like.
Told from the point of view of one of Brigadier General Bushrod R. Johnson's staff, Chester Rigsby, as he looks back from a distance of many years. Johnson has died and Rigsby recounts the three days in hell they spent together at the Battle of Chickamauga.
There is no smoothing over the cost of war and the destruction of the fight in this novel. It is not a romanticized, sanitized version of what went on, but it is a well-researched and brutal look at the hell that war is. Good job, Mr. Howard. 5 stars.
All around me the hail of iron and lead tore at the trees. The wind had dropped away almost to nothing. The smoke billowed around us, blinding, choking. I could barely see across the few yards between me and the two generals. My eyes felt as if they were full of acid. I could barely see. To my right, Lieutenant Everett’s battery was hurling load after load of canister across the field. The noise was deafening. My head throbbed. My ears ached, and every blast seemed to hammer my brain against the inside of my skull. The insides of my nose and the back of my throat were on fire. Even my teeth hurt, though that might have been because I had them clamped together, hard. The ground seemed to shake under my feet as each gun fired its double-loaded charge, sending its gun rearing two, three feet into the air.
KABAM! I almost came off the ground myself, so startled was I as, just a few yards away to my right, one of Everett’s Napoleons was hit by a solid shot. A four-and-a-half-inch, twelve-pound iron ball smashed into the wheel nearest to me, shattering it and most of the rest of the gun’s carriage. Huge chunks of wood and iron – the rim, spokes, trail and axle – spun in all directions, flinging the great bronze tube high into the air. Every member of the gun crew was either killed or severely wounded: one lost an arm, torn off at the shoulder by the cannon ball as it careened off the wheel. Two more were hit by flying spokes – one of them speared in the chest. Another lost an eye to the wildly spinning, iron wheel rim, and still another was crushed to death when the 1,200 pound tube fell on him. For a moment, there was silence, but only for a moment. The gun was quickly replaced, and the firestorm continued.
For the most part, we were fighting blind, but every now and again, a breeze would get up and sweep away the smoke, and we’d get a glimpse across the field.
But there was obviously something strange going on; even I knew it. They were fighting as if they had two or three brigades, not just a couple of regiments, and Forrest and Johnson couldn’t figure out was how they were doing what they were doing. We were throwing more than 6,000 Minié balls a minute across that open field, not to mention what our artillery was doing. We should have trounced them an hour or more past, but somehow they were matching us almost shot for shot.
Suddenly, Forrest cupped his hands around his mouth and shouted in Johnson’s ear, “They’ve got repeaters, General.”
Johnson nodded, but never took his glasses from his eyes. He just continued to stare into the wall of smoke.
Repeaters? I wasn’t sure if I’d heard him right, what with noise and all. If I had, he must have meant the new Spencer repeating rifle we’d all heard about. I’d never seen one myself. But from all accounts, it held a load of seven .56 Minié balls in copper cartridges, and a man could fire them just as fast as he could crank the lever and thumb back the hammer. No wonder they were holding us.
Blair is also a travel writer and professional photographer specializing in golf travel, vacation travel, and golf course photography. His travels take him throughout the United States, Europe and the Caribbean playing golf, writing about his experiences, and photographing the golf courses he visits. You can follow him on About.com.
Blair is the author of more than 40 books and more than 4,500 magazine, newspaper, and web articles. His work has appeared in many national and international publications, including Delta's Sky Magazine, PHOTOgraphic magazine, The Mail on Sunday, The Walking Magazine, Petersen's Hunting Magazine, The Boston Herald, The Detroit Free-Press, The Anchorage Times and many more.
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