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    The Smell of Battle, the Taste of Siege

    By: Mark M. Smith

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    "Historical accounts of major events have almost always relied upon what those who were there witnessed. Nowhere is this truer than in the nerve-shattering chaos of warfare, where sight seems to confer objective truth and acts as the basis of reconstruction. In The Smell of Battle, The Taste of Siege, historian Mark M. Smith considers how all five senses, including sight sound, smell, taste, and touch, shaped the experience of the Civil War and thus its memory, exploring its full sensory impact on everyone from the soldiers on the field to the civilians waiting at home. From the eardrum-shattering barrage of shells announcing the outbreak of war at Fort Sumter; to the stench produced by the corpses lying in the mid-summer sun at Gettysburg; to the siege of Vicksburg, once a center of Southern culinary aesthetics and starved into submission, Smith recreates how Civil War was lived. Relying on first-hand accounts, Smith focuses on sense, one for each event, offering a wholly new perspective. At Bull Run, the similarities between the colors of the Union and Confederate uniforms created concern over what later would be called 'friendly fire' and helped decide the outcome of the first major battle. He evokes what it might have felt like to be in the HL Hunleysubmarine, in which eight men worked in darkness in a space 48 inches high, 42 inches wide. Often argued to be the first 'total war,' the Civil War overwhelmed the senses because of its unprecedented nature and scope, rendering sight less reliable and engaging the nonvisual senses. Sherman's March was little less than a full-blown assault on Southern sense and sensibility, leaving nothing untouched. The Smell of Battle, The Taste of Siege offers readers a way to experience of the Civil War with fresh eyes"--Provided by publisher.

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