Nell Dickerson, Shelby Foote


$29.95 April 2011
ISBN 978-1-61194-003-9

Photographs by Nell Dickerson. Texts by Shelby Foote, Robert Hicks, and Nell Dickerson


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Synopsis | Reviews



"The words I remembered were those of the mad woman on the lawn. "Calling yourself soldiers,” she said. "Burners is all you is.”

Photographer and architect Nell Dickerson began her exploration of antebellumhomesteads with encouragement from her cousin-in-law—renowned Civil War historian and novelist Shelby Foote. Her passion for forgotten and neglected buildings became a plea for preservation.

Gone is a unique pairing of modern photographs and historical novella. Foote offers a heartbreaking look at one man's loss as Union troops burn his home in the last days of the Civil War. Dickerson shares fascinating and haunting photographs, shining a poignant light on the buildings which survived Sherman's burning rampage across the Confederacy, only to fall victim to neglect, apathy and poverty.

GONE is a powerfully moving volume that will change how you see the forgotten buildings that hide in obscurity across the Southern landscape.


The Civil War had been over for exactly ninety years in 1954, when my cousin, Shelby Foote, published "Pillar of Fire" as part of his novel, Jordan County: A Landscape in Narrative. The book's stories painted a vivid picture of a fictitious Mississippi county steeped in Southern culture.

"Pillar of Fire" took readers into a heartbreaking and commonplace scene late in the Civil War, when Union troops moved through the civilian South destroying not only plantations but also ordinary homes and cabins. Those troops, battle-hardened and bitter from the loss of their own brethren, shared the tragic effects of war.

In "Pillar of Fire" they take no joy in burning a home in front of its dying, elderly owner and his frail servants. The cruelty of the circumstances is as much a given for them as the dying man's grief over all the memories that burn with his house.

Now, on the eve of the Civil War's 150th commemoration, my mission is to draw attention not only to the architectural heritage devastated by the war but also the heritage we've lost since then: to neglect, to poverty, and to shame, as the war's infamy colored the attitudes of later generations and tainted the homes those generations inherited. What the war didn't take, time and apathy did. And yet those grand old homes—whether mansion or cabin—deserve our reverence and protection.




"...resonating with the spirit of the war story more than its gritty detailing." -- Joe Nolan, Chapter 16

"There is great irony to be found in her powerful images of such fragile places.” —Robert Hicks, author of THE WIDOW OF THE SOUTH



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