There was little funny about a war in which 620,000 humans died. But it was finding humor amid devastation that kept Civil War soldiers marching toward the enemy. Union or Confederate, those in command proved adept at making mistakes. Many leaders were drunkards, couldn't speak English, didn't know a cannon's breech from its muzzle. Among the galleries of heroes were: Colonel Edward Baker, who told his Federals to follow the plume of his hat if they wanted to find war—and sent them over a cliff in a panicked retreat; General Felix Zollicoffer, who wore a white raincoat so opposing Federals could see him—but not his eyeglasses so he could see them; Thomas Selfridge of the Union navy, who "found two torpedoes and removed them by placing his vessel over them"; Colonel Alfred Rhett, a captured Southern blue blood whose fancy boots proved too small for every Union officer who coveted them; rum-drinking James Ledlie and dance-instructing Edward Ferrero, generals who kept each other company in a Union bombproof while their men faced slaughter. From Fort Sumter to Appomattox, Civil War Blunders traces the war according to its amusing, often deadly miscues. Lurking behind every significant action, as readers will discover, was someone with a red face.
Clint Johnson is a native of Fish Branch, Florida, who has written eight books about the Civil War, as well as biographies and newspaper and magazine articles. He received his journalism degree from the University of Florida, and now lives in North Carolina.