I really wanted to like this book, the cover compared it to Gone With the Wind and Cold Mountain, both of which I liked very much. But the characters were very bland, stereotypical and unlikable, the dialog was flat, and the interactions of the characters left a lot for you to guess at, sometimes they were just down right confusing, characters that were supposedly driven by great passion one moment, didn't care at all the next. They did things that made no sense, or were not in their established character and the author felt no need to explain why. He also tried to show the complex relationship between the slaves and the planters, how dependent and intertwined they each were with the other, but he failed to make it clear or put the needed emotion into it.
Most of the descriptive writing was focused on the graphic, gory details of the war, the battles, the field hospitals, the living conditions of the southerners. I think the author wanted to paint a vivid picture of just how gruesome the Civil War really was but he needed to make you care about the characters first to do that well and he just didn't.