No Greater Courage: A Novel of the Battle of Fredericksburg
Richard Croker’s talents as a Civil War novelist were first displayed in his well received To Make Men Free: A Novel of the Battle of Antietam. A similar formula is at work in this story of the Union disaster at the Battle of Fredericksburg in December, 1862. Here, the Union forces commanded by the incompetent Ambrose Burnside attacked impregnable positions held by Confederate troops under Robert E. Lee. Croker’s narrative is told throughout the voices of dozens of historical figures (Abraham Lincoln, Robert E. Lee, Ambrose Burnside, Salmon Chase, William Seward, Joshua Chamberlain, et al) and a smaller number of fictional creations. All are presented in a manner which easily fits the storyline. Historical figures can sometimes sound as if they are reading directly from their published memoirs years after the event, but Croker has an imaginative way of placing them in their natural surroundings that should satisfy the most astute historical fiction critic. The fictional characters, especially the Irish Brigade soldiers Stretchbok and McCarter, stand in as examples of the nameless enlisted men from both armies.