An exhaustive one-volume history presenting not only the major battles in Virginia but also illuminating such usually overlooked parts of the Civil War as western battles and naval actions.
Eicher (The Civil War in Books, not reviewed), associate editor of North and South magazine, provides a definitive military narrative that also serves as a reference guide to the technological and social challenges underlying the brutal combat. He begins by rehashing the well-known circumstances of Fort Sumter’s fall to the South and maintains this conventional tone as he describes individual episodes from the war: President Lincoln remains frustrated as he searches for aggressive military leadership; General Lee’s battlefield audacity at Chancellorsville still shines brilliantly in comparison to his decidedly amateur Union opponents; General Grant’s personal tenacity and drive to destroy the Army of Northern Virginia continue to be key to the North’s ultimate victory. Despite his mostly commonplace approach, Eicher provides a unique look at the relationships between the conflict’s major actions that other studies of the individual battles or campaigns fail to provide. By tracking troop movements between Eastern and Western operational theatres, he reveals both Union and Confederate attempts to implement national strategies that would result in ultimate victory. Eicher suggests that the coordinated actions of Grant in Virginia and Sherman further south finally pressured the South into submission. While other historians have described these battles and analyzed both Northern and Southern societies in far more detail, only Eicher has managed to assemble the myriad issues of the Civil War into a single, coherent volume.
Comprehensive research and concise narrative ensure that this history will be the first stop for a new generation of Civil War scholars, students, and enthusiasts. (49 maps)