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The March - Part 3 (pages 302 - 363) 
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Post The March - Part 3 (pages 302 - 363)
The March - Part 3 (pages 302 - 363)

Edited by: Chris OConnor  at: 11/18/05 11:13 pm



Fri Nov 18, 2005 11:13 pm
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Post Sherman's letter to Confederate General Hardee
On p. 122 Sherman discovers his six-month-old son had died of the croup. On page 317 Sherman learns the 16 year old son of Confederate General Hardee died in battle. Two Generals on opposite sides of the battlefield lost a son named William. Sherman sends Hardee a letter.
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And now, General, we have both lost our sons of the same name. Though my Willie was too young to ride, it was the war that killed him just as surely as the war has killed yours. How unnatural is this age when, in violation of God's grand stratagem, the young are unbodied of their souls before the old. In Ecclesiastes it is said (as I blunder to remember it), "As some leaves fall and others grow in their place, so to with the generations of flesh and blood, one dies and another is born." I can imagine you wishing in your grief that God had spared your Willie and taken you instead, for that is what I wished - I mean, when I lost my Willie. I curse our inverted time, when so many thousands of us, fathers and mothers, have given our children to this damned war of the insurrection. I look forward to the day this nation is again united and the natural order is restored and our generations die once again appropriate to their God-given ranks. At that time, my dear General, I hope we may meet and commiserate as fellow soldiers and survivors. Desiring that you accept my sincere condolences, I am, sir, your humble obediant servant.

William Tecumseh Sherman
Major General



I heard an interview with E. L. Doctorow where he stated Sherman did not write that letter, but he had read enough of Sherman's correspondence to be confident that he was quite capable of composing such a letter. You may recall Ken Burns' documentary of the civil war that recited letters from typical soldiers written with great eloquence.




Sat Jan 14, 2006 8:02 pm
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Post Re: parting words
Finished the novel today. I burned through the last hundred pages or so, in order to pass it on to my family. A bit anticlimactic, this last part. Or maybe I just read through it too quickly.

It's interesting to me how often the last part of the novel is dominated by larger than life historical personages -- Lincoln, Grant, Lee, Johnston. It almost seems unfair how they tend to squeeze out the characters that have, until now, been the focus of the novel. I didn't have any particular desire to see Lincoln directly involved, but I do wonder if maybe Doctorow didn't find it impossible to resist the urge to draw in the best-known historical figure of the era.

I feel a little let down by the climax to the Arly thread of the novel. I feel like the complexities of his character sort of fell to the wayside, in part, perhaps, because we see him increasingly from Calvin Harper's point of view. As such, Arly is reduced to the crazy guy who thinks it's his mission to kill Sherman. Not that I think Doctorow should feel any obligation to dignify a fanatic, but it certainly would have been more compelling to get a fuller picture of the man.

It also speaks to the sorry state of my knowledge of the historical events that I didn't know about the attempt on Sherman's life. I should probably do some non-fiction reading on the subject.

I think there might have still been some story worth telling in the Pearl's self-imposed obligation to deliver Lt. Clarke's letter to his family. But I suppose a good author knows where the story he's telling ends.




Thu Jan 19, 2006 6:42 pm
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