Clifford Dowdey's novels of Tidewater Virginia are gradually building up a sense of intimate awareness of successive phases of the history of a section each mile of which seems to have written itself into warp and woof of our nation's building. This novel deals with that tragic period of the disintegration before the end as the Army of the Potomac was decimated by loss of officer material, desertion, lack of food and supplies and ammunition --pitted against the growing power of Grant's night. This is a story of a Captain on A.P. Hill's staff, of the final abandonment of Richmond and the abortive attempt to hold the line to Petersburg, and the final capitulation. And with this as background, the sad love story of Blount Mathis and heroic little Cathie -- and of Blount's putting the army first, an army he know was defeated, but in which he wanted to share their experience to the bitter end. The book is more army than romance, perhaps; those who have read the volumes of Lee's Lieutenants will find it a fresh and poignant footnote to the last volume.