Leave a comment

Governor, if I had foreseen the use those people designed to make of their victory, there would have been no surrender at Appomattox Courthouse; no sir, not by me. Had I foreseen these results of subjugation, I would have preferred to die at Appomattox with my brave men, my sword in my right hand… Robert E. Lee to Governor Fletcher S. Stockdale of Texas in September 1870

The road to Appomattox  Robert Hendrickson  New York : J. Wiley, c 1998  Hardcover. 1st ed. and printing. ix, 241 p. : ill., maps ; 25 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. 227-230) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

appo001

Early in 1864, after three long years of bloody and horrifying civil war, Ulysses S. Grant took command of all Union forces engaged against the Confederacy. Grim and ruthless in his determination, Grant set out to grind the enemy into submission with superior numbers, equipment, and firepower. Nothing would stop him – not fierce resistance from Robert E. Lee‘s Army of Northern Virginia; not a shocking Union casualty count often three or four times greater than the enemy’s; and not Lee’s uncanny ability to anticipate and counter Grant’s every move.

appo002

It would take a year for Grant’s strategy to succeed – the final and most murderous year of an already savage struggle. In The Road to Appomattox, Robert Hendrickson re-creates that final year with vivid descriptions, intriguing insights, and revealing details. Through the reminiscences of participants, as well as contemporary diaries, letters, and newspaper accounts, Hendrickson brings those bitter days to life with graphic depictions of some of the most desperate actions of the war.

appo003

An eerie account of the Second Battle of the Wilderness, fought among the skeletal remains of those fallen in the first battle; heart-wrenching descriptions of the slaughter of thousands of Union troops in fruitless human-wave assaults at Spotsylvania and Cold Harbor; and the crushing defeat of Lee’s bedraggled army in its last desperate attempt to break free of Union pursuit just outside of Appomattox. Hendrickson fashions striking portraits of many important travelers on the road to Appomattox, including the pugnacious little general Phil Sheridan; J. E. B. Stuart, the quintessential Rebel cavalry officer; and the hapless Ambrose Burnside, whose Petersburg mine scheme might have won the war in dramatic fashion but ended in unspeakable disaster.

appo004

The author reveals the truth behind Grant’s legendary bouts with alcohol and explains how Lee, the consummate Southern gentleman and an opponent of slavery, could fight so fiercely for State’s Rights without embracing slavery. The Road to Appomattox also explores the events of the war’s final days, including sobering civilian accounts of the devastation and suffering that followed the fall of Richmond and Sherman’s notorious march through Georgia and the Carolinas. Most bittersweet of all is Hendrickson’s description of Lee’s surrender–the tall, courtly “soul of the Confederacy” sadly yielding to his stocky, mud-spattered adversary; the Southerner dignified in defeat, his counterpart as drunk in victory as he had been in command.

appo005

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: