A sensory history of the Civil War.

25 Nov

The Smell of Battle is an unconventional history of the Civil War, written with special attention to olfaction, touch, taste, sight, and hearing. It joins other recent histories of the war—Drew Gilpin Faust’s This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War; Michael C.C. Adams’ Living Hell: The Dark Side of the Civil War—in trying to represent the war’s massive levels of death and disruption so that 21st-century readers will really feel the history, deep in their bones. In episodic chapters that look at familiar historical evidence in new ways, Smith considers the fall of Fort Sumter in its terrifying loudness, the visual confusion of war at the first Battle of Bull Run, the stench of Gettysburg, the taste of subpar food inside the besieged city of Vicksburg, and the awful sensation of full-body confinement inside the doomed Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley.

So writes Rebecca Onion at Slate’s The Vault about a new book by historian Mark Smith. You can read the entire post here: Gettysburg: What did it smell like? Vicksburg: What did it taste like? A sensory history of the Civil War..

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