Before the publication of Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind, Mary Johnston's The Long Roll was one of the most successful Civil War novels ever written, hailed on its publication in 1911 as "the best fictional study of the Civil War that has yet been done" (North American Review). Unlike Mitchell's novel of the aristocratic home front, The Long Roll is set among the fighting armies and deftly blends fact with fiction. Capturing the epic scale of the war, Johnston follows the adventures of the fictional Richard Cleave of Virginia, a Confederate artillery officer, and of General "Stonewall" Jackson during the most decisive engagements in the years of Confederate supremacy: Manassas, the Seven Days, Malvern Hill, and Sharpsburg. She mixes the details of warfare - strategies, tactics, and logistics - with sweeping descriptions of raw courage and reckless abandon. The Long Roll, which succeeds brilliantly in bringing to life the differing motives for secession and war and in evoking the suspicions and battered consciences of both North and South, is followed by a sequel, Cease Firing, also available from Johns Hopkins.
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