Eric Jacobson’s new book – Baptism of Fire – comes out this weekend. I asked Jacobson about the book.
1. Why did you write this book?
Because I knew the roles of the 44th Missouri, 175th Ohio, and 183rd Ohio were virtually unknown, even to folks with some knowledge of the Battle of Franklin. But most importantly, I felt that the men who served in those units deserved a better fate than to be completely forgotten.
2. What might some “experienced” Battle of Franklin students even find surprising about this book?
That their core understanding of how the battle turned in favor of the Federal forces is/was flawed because there has too much focus of the role of Col. Emerson Opdycke’s Brigade.
3. What are a few highlights of primary resources used in this book that have not been used in previous treatments on Franklin?
Extensive Ohio and Missouri newspaper coverage of the Battle of Franklin, as well as its aftermath, and a variety of letters and diary accounts which have never before been published.
4. Got a favorite story or character from the book?
No favorites in particular. However, collectively the stories and accounts make the overall story of Franklin even more compelling, at least in my opinion.
5. If the reader only gains one thing from the book, what would you hope they walk away with?
That Opdycke’s Brigade did not alone “save the day” and that the men who fought in these new Missouri and Ohio regiments are indicative of the sacrifices made by American soldiers across many years and many places. Jim Lighthizer, President of the Civil War Trust, composed a beautiful quote for the back of the book and compared these Civil War soldiers to those who were depicted in Band of Brothers. I only hope many more people feel the same way as these read the book.