The last few months of the Civil War demonstrate just how much it was a “lost cause” for the South. In the latest installment of the Great Campaigns of the Civil War series, Air Force senior historian emeritus Jamieson (Khobar Towers: Tragedy and Response, 2008, etc.) recounts the last battles, skirmishes and attempts at peace.
Ulysses S. Grant, a man who never backed down from a fight, commanded the Northern army, and his second-in-command was just as fierce: William Tecumseh Sherman, whose war of destruction starved the Confederate army of supplies, ammunition and food. The Northern army had the necessary supplies and the transport to deliver them where they were required. They had a ready supply of men to fight, as well, something the South sorely lacked. Gen. Joseph Johnston, unable to concentrate enough forces to defeat Sherman, could only check him at the battle of Bentonville; he had no way to hold ground. Jamieson devotes much of the book to the continuing campaign to take Petersburg and Richmond, a fight that lasted more than nine months and featured multiple offenses by both sides. There were two separate attempts to broker a peace agreement, but in the end, Jefferson Davis asked for peace between the two countries while Abraham Lincoln insisted there could only be one common country. Ultimately, it was almost a month after Appomattox that the last Confederate forces surrendered. The author describes each of the battles fought in early 1865 in extensive detail. Civil War aficionados will no doubt relish the descriptions of the officers, troop movements and tactics in each campaign, but the narrative may bog down for average readers.
The true value of this book is Jamieson’s in-depth portrayal of the armies and their leaders, heroes and fools as they struggled to the bitter end.