In early March 1861, civil war loomed. By late April, Americans had begun to kill their fellow citizens. Cry Havoc! recounts in riveting detail the events that divided the states and reveals how quirks of timing, character, and place all conspired to transform the nation into a battlefield. Nelson Lankford, author of Richmond Burning, chronicles the eight critical weeks that began with Lincoln's inauguration through the explosion at Fort Sumter and the president's fateful response to it. Before Fort Sumpter, the balance could have tipped in favor of a peaceful resolution. But the groundswell of patriotic fervor that followed convulsed the political and military landscape in ways unimaginable just weeks before. This book addresses the many might-have-beens, both familiar and lesser known. What if Lincoln had shown restraint over Fort Sumter? What if he had delayed the proclaimation calling for troops? Could wavering unionists in the upper South have held the line? A must-read for all who wish to understand the birth of the modern United States of America, Cry Havoc! probes the fateful series of events and analyzes each of the failed possibilities that hindsight affords.
"Might-have-beens haunt this absorbing study of the opening act of the Civil War."—Publishers Weekly