THE LAST CITADEL by Noah Andre Trudeau


Petersburg, Virginia, June 1864-April 1865
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 A finely detailed resumption of the harrowing story of Grant's relentless drive south that brought Union armies to Cold Harbor, Virginia--a campaign whose initial stages were described so well in Trudeau's Bloody Roads South (1989). Here, Trudeau covers the 11-month siege and capture of Petersburg, the gracious southern town that was a rail center, major rebel supply depot, and lifeline to Richmond, capital of the Confederacy. He shows us the great commanders matching wits in a long bloody duel: Grant, the cool, calculating master of logistics, waging a war of attrition against the wily, charismatic Lee, whose outnumbered Army of Northern Virginia usually emerged victorious through brilliant tactics. Trudeau includes a description of the bizarre Battle of the Crater, in which Pennsylvania miners dug a 500-foot tunnel packed with powder under Southern defenses, causing a great explosion and resulting in a fierce battle between major forces. Petersburg was the largest military action ever waged against an American city, greater than the more publicized sieges of Southern citadels like Richmond, Atlanta, and Vicksburg. As usual, Trudeau has done exhaustive research of great sprawling events that at times may overwhelm a general reader. He not only cites formal historical accounts, unit histories, and field reports of officers but adds a needed human dimension, expounding on what war means to soldiers and civilians by consulting diaries, letters, memoirs, and eyewitness reports that bring home the horror and terror of combat. Perhaps the definitive one-volume account of the siege of Petersburg--a great achievement in mastering and interpreting vast material. (Maps and drawings.)

Pub Date: Oct. 23rd, 1991
ISBN: 0-316-85327-5
Page count: 420pp
Publisher: Little, Brown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 1991


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