Across Five Aprils Chapter 8
Looking back, Jethro understands that the spring and the summer of that year have been good for the Union cause with the various victories achieved in battles. Studying the map, Jethro thinks to himself that the Union is doing better than Shad had expected. The Union cause along the Mississippi River is advancing until there is news that Bragg and Smith, two Confederate generals, have pushed the Union army out of the Cumberland Gap and up to Kentucky. There is also bad news from the East; Confederate generals, Lee and Stonewall Jackson, have succeeded over McClellan and Pope's Union army. Thus by fall, the situation is looking bad for the North.
In September, neighbors come to help build a new barn for the Creightons. Ross Milton comes with a load of logs as a gift from Dave Burdow to the Creightons. Ross tells Jethro that since the incident with Guy Wortman, people have been reaching out to Dave Burdow. At about noon, the men eat lunch together, and Jethro overhears them talking about a battle that has occurred at Antietam. Ed Turner criticizes General McClellan, saying that he wastes too many soldiers and that he does nothing but strut around in his uniform. Tom Marin from Rose Hill agrees, adding that perhaps the President himself doesn't want to win the war. He hasn't done anything about the slave so far. But Israel Thomas becomes angry, saying that it isn't easy being the president. One of them tells Jethro to be thankful that he is only a boy who doesn't have to worry about the war, but Jethro feels insulted.
A few days later, Shad writes about the battle of Antietam and General McClellan. He writes that many of the soldiers worship General McClellan, but he is not one of them: "I tell you frankly that the contagion of their devotion has not yet gripped me. I do not dislike him...But he is afraid of something--of sending the men who love him to their death--of making an error that will reflect upon the image of himself which he knows to exist in the minds of his men. He does not have the cold approach to killing, the singleness of purpose, the brutal tenacity, that the winner of this war--if there ever is to be one--must have." Chapter 8, pg. 125
When the battle at Antietam is over, it seems very much like the one at Shiloh. It is a Federal victory, but it does not signify the end of the war. That fall, there is news that the President has dismissed General McClelland to put another man named Ambrose Burnside in command.
In December, there is news about a battle at Fredericksburg, a town lying on a river in Virginia. Burnside had sent men up a chain of hills, but they had all been killed by the Confederates at the top until bodies of Union soldiers began piling up. The Creightons think that Shad must have been at this battle, and one day, he writes them that men in the army do not look favorably upon Burnside's stubbornness.
Early in 1863, there is a letter from John who writes to Nancy about what has happened at a place called Stones River. The battle had turned out to be a Federal victory, but there had been too many casualties. People are discouraged by the stories of Fredericksburg and Stones River. The war seems endless, and the people are losing faith in the Northern cause. In late 1862, deserters begin flowing into Illinois.