From the first Union victories in the west at Forts Henry and Donelson to the savage battle of Shiloh and onward to the March to the Sea, the Seventh Illinois Infantry fought with distinction across the Confederacy. Ambrose's vivid eyewitness account traces the first Illinois volunteer regiment from its muster in 1861 to the final days of the war. An introduction and explanatory notes by Civil War historian Daniel E. Sutherland reveal the importance of this western unit's contributions.
Originally stationed in Missouri and Kentucky, the unit helped to maintain Union control of border slave states that had not joined the Confederacy. During the middle years of the war, the Seventh protected rail lines and raided into Confederate-held areas of Tennessee and Alabama. Ambrose vividly depicts the ravages of war as the Seventh Illinois tracked and fought rebel raiders, partisans, and guerrillas. Illustrating the chilling relationship between violence and daily army life, Ambrose describes Northern soldiers who, initially reluctant to pillage and forage the South, grew hardened to brutality and unrepentantly destroyed towns and plantations.
The Seventh's bloodiest battles took place at Shiloh and at Allatoona Pass, where the unit played a crucial role in Union victories. The infantry also fought throughout the prolonged campaigns around Corinth. It saw the sea at Savannah, witnessed the burning of Columbia, and marched through the heart of the Confederacy before ending the war in North Carolina. Throughout this highly textured account, Ambrose searingly portrays the confusion of battle and the fierce loyalty to fallen comrades as he details the heroism and sacrifice of his fellow soldiers.