Darkness at Chancellorsville: A Novel of Stonewall Jackson’s Triumph and Tragedy

Written by Ralph Peters
Review by Susan Higginbotham

In the latest of his Civil War novels, Ralph Peters tells the story of the Battle of Chancellorsville through a broad array of characters, from North and South alike. It’s an approach that works well; still, some readers, especially those encountering one of Peters’ novels for the first time, might expect from the subtitle (“A Novel of Stonewall Jackson’s Triumph and Tragedy”), as I did, that there would be a tighter focus, namely on Stonewall Jackson.

That caveat aside, this novel has vivid, gripping battle scenes, yet at the same time, character is not sacrificed in favor of action. When he does turn up, Jackson is convincingly and sympathetically rendered, as is the rest of the large cast. The author’s note, including Peters’ reflections on Jackson and other figures in the novel, is enlightening,

Military novelists wanting to improve their technique would do well to read this book.