July 15, 2022 is the release date for Michael R. Bradley’s outstanding new 400 page book, The Last Words, published by Charleston Athenaeum Press.


Charleston Athenaeum Press will resume regular weekly blog posts later this month.

From the Introduction to The Last Words by the author:

"Never mind that anyone touring a battlefield cannot find a single monument to Union soldiers which boasts that the men fought to end slavery. They all honor the bravery of those who fought and died, and speak of preserving the Union. Perhaps this emphasis on preserving the Union is why historians almost always call the United States forces the “Union Army” despite the fact that this name displaces slavery as the central factor supposedly causing the war."

From the Prologue by Gene Kizer, Jr.:

Dr. Michael R. Bradley has given us the words of some of the most important participants in the War Between the States at a critical point in American history, when the republic of the Founding Fathers died and the federal government became supreme over the states.

Lee had surrendered and the war was nearly over but units were still on battlefields and had not yet broken up. Not all commanders addressed their men. Many just broke up and started home as best they could.

The seventeen extant farewell addresses Bradley has dug out are an excellent representative for all the other soldiers in the war. They tell us exactly what men on both sides were feeling after all that death and destruction, and why they had fought.

The addresses also talk about the future in our reunited country.

As one might imagine there was jubilation on the Northern side at their victory, and deep disappointment on the Southern but not despair. There was a manly, dignified acceptance of the loss, and pride in their victories that were more impressive because Southerners were outnumbered four to one by a well-armed, well-fed, well-clothed invader whose army was 25% foreign born, while they, themselves, were often hungry and ragged.

Southerners were ecstatic to fight for their sacred cause of independence and die for it, and hundreds of thousands had.

Basil Gildersleeve, a Confederate soldier from Charleston, South Carolina, states well the feeling in the hearts of the Southerners. He wrote this in his book, The Creed of the Old South, published 27 years after the war:

All that I vouch for is the feeling; . . . there was no lurking suspicion of any moral weakness in our cause. Nothing could be holier than the cause, nothing more imperative than the duty of upholding it. There were those in the South who, when they saw the issue of the war, gave up their faith in God, but not their faith in the cause.1

One of the best orations was given by perhaps the greatest soldier of the War Between the States on either side, Confederate Lieutenant General Nathan Bedford Forrest, who is often attacked by academia's jealous, politicized historians, but his address, like his deeds and life, is towering and speaks for itself.

One of the sweetest and saddest was from Confederate Major General Robert F. Hoke who writes that the Southern "star has set in blood, but yet in glory."

The address by the white officer, Lieutenant Colonel Charles Tyler Trowbridge of the United States Colored Troops, from Morris Island in Charleston where they were stationed, is fascinating. Bradley gives us much detail about the USCT. Black units were always commanded by white officers because blacks were not permitted to rise higher than sergeant. Often black troops and officers were looked down on by other Union soldiers. Nathan Bedford Forrest is often accused of atrocities at Fort Pillow but the USCT has a record of the same type atrocities during the attack on Petersburg, Virginia in 1864. Bradley points out that many of the Union's black troops were not volunteers but were rounded up and coerced, or a "loyal" (Union) slaveholder would enlist his slave and receive the enlistment bonus. Trowbridge, himself, was arrested and court-martialed for murder in Newberry, South Carolina but found "not guilty" by a friendly court, which brought a harsh rebuke from Major General Charles Devens who had brought the charges against him. Despite often poor officers, Bradley writes that the USCT "generally" fought well as noted by a Confederate officer paying his enemy a compliment at the Battle of Nashville.

Michael Bradley is a distinguished historian with an impressive educational background including an M.A. and Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University. See "About the Author" for a complete biography.

He is from the Tennessee-Alabama state line region near Fayetteville, Tennessee and his love of home and its history are obvious and a pleasure to read. One always writes best about what one loves most and is most fascinated by.

Many of his books are about the War Between the States in Tennessee, or Nathan Bedford Forrest and his men, but he has written on topics ranging from the Revolutionary War to death in the Great Smoky Mountains.

He taught United States History at Motlow College near Tullahoma, Tennessee for thirty-six years.

In 1994 he was awarded the Jefferson Davis Medal in Southern History, and in 2006 he was elected commander of the Tennessee Division, SCV. He was also appointed to Tennessee's Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission.

Michael Bradley has given us biographical information on the seventeen commanders giving the farewell addresses, and exciting narrative history researched in minute detail on each unit and their battles. If you love history, it does not get better than this.

You will thoroughly enjoy this book and learn a great deal about why men on both sides fought in the War Between the States and what they planned to do afterward.

I am very proud to be Michael Bradley's publisher and friend.

Gene Kizer, Jr.
May 10, 2022


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1 Basil L. Gildersleeve, The Creed of the Old South, Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Press, 1915; reprint: BiblioLife, Penrose Library, University of Denver (no date given), 26-27. Gildersleeve is known as one of the greatest classical scholars of all time.