The Battle of the Wilderness May 5-6, 1864

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9780807130216: The Battle of the Wilderness May 5-6, 1864
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This is the latest entry in the new category of regiment-by-regiment accountings of major Civil War battles, products made possible not just by revived interest in the conflict but by the rise of a new generation of Civil War historians able to research with the aid of computer databases. It's a well-written, absorbing, though decidedly bloody tally of the opening battle of the 1864 campaign in Virginia. The Confederate Army of Northern Virginia extricated itself several times from the jaws of disaster, while the Union Army of the Potomac slogged to a tactical draw that was turned into a strategic victory by Grant's refusal to retreat. As portrayed in these pages, the battle reflects much credit on the soldiers and somewhat less on most of the generals but certainly deserves the full coverage this massive volume affords. This main selection of the History Book Club is indeed a valuable addition to Civil War collections.--Roland Green "Booklist "

"Never before has there been such a finely detailed--and objective--rendering of this battle. . . . Future accounts of the Wilderness will stand on the shoulders of Rhea's book"--Chicago Tribune

"Both rich in colorful human incidents and provocative in its leadership assessments. . . . [Rhea's] book is now the first choice for anyone interested in understanding this critical battle."--Blue and Gray

Fought in a dense woods, the Battle of the Wilderness was the first clash between Grant and Lee. Two days of close-quarters fighting ignited the woods and trebled the casualty list with no advantage to either side; Lee stalemated Grant's superior force. Historian Rhea's revisionist history considers the Wilderness a Union victory. The author questions Lee's reputation as a brilliant strategist while praising Grant for a well-conceived battle plan. Personalities aside, the battle of attrition that would win the war had begun. Powerfully written, mingling official histories with diaries and letters, this study is filled with dramatic tension. As written by Rhea, the Battle of the Wilderness underscores how the Confederacy won many battles but lost the war. Strongly recommended for academic and public collections.--Library Journal

"Through [Rhea's] well-constructed profiles of the Union corps commanders, we come to know the strengths and weaknesses of those who held the lives of thousands in their hands."--Washington Times

Rhea, a Virginia attorney, offers what will likely become the definitive account of one of the Civil War's most confusing engagements: the Battle of the Wilderness, the first encounter between Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee, fought in Virginia. The author's reconstruction of the fighting highlights the difficulties of controlling troops once they had been committed to action. Grant's original plan was to maneuver Lee out of his defensive position along the Rapidan River, then crush his troops with superior numbers. Instead, Rhea notes, the Wilderness became a "soldiers' battle," with raw courage compensating for inadequate generalship on both sides. Grant relied too heavily on the Army of the Potomac's commander, George Gordon Meade, who failed to coordinate the movements of subordinates disoriented by the broken ground they fought over. Rhea also criticizes Lee for consistently taking the offensive with an army that could not afford the major losses it sustained in attacking. History Book Club main selection.--Publishers Weekly

In a meticulous, exhaustive, yet highly readable account, Thomas has done for the Battle of the Wilderness what others have done for Gettysburg, Antietam, and other Civil War battles. Rhea, an attorney and Civil War buff, gives clear historical treatment to one of the major engagements of the Civil War, the first important battle directed by Ulysses S. Grant after his appointment as general-in-chief of the Federal army. In the tangled, thicketed Virginia forest region south of the Rapidan River, Grant's force of approximately 120,000 was opposed by 65,000 men under the command of Robert E. Lee. The Union push was to be the beginning of Grant's campaign to capture Richmond, the Confederate capital. Though his army outnumbered Lee's by almost two to one, Grant met with stiff resistance, and the dense woods made fighting almost impossible. In the end, after both sides suffered heavy casualties, the battle was indecisive. Rhea views the engagement in the context of the increasingly desperate Southern situation in mid-1864 as resources became ever more scarce. He also relates the story of an important, little-known precursor to the battle: a disastrous foray by Federal troops against entrenched Confederates at Morton's Ford on the Rapidan in February of the same year. His narrative brings to life not only Grant, Lee, and James Longstreet, but also lesser known figures like ``Brains'' Halleck (Grant's predecessor as commander) and Gen. John Sedgwick (who commanded the 8th Pennsylvania Cavalry in the Wilderness and had previously, against his better judgment, commanded the attack at Morton's Ford). An extremely helpful appendix contains the complete order of battle for both sides. All future accounts of the battle will be measured against this work. Scholars and buffs alike will find the volume enthralling. (History Book Club main selection)--Kirkus Reviews

Reseña del editor:

Recounts the first battle between Grant and Lee, when greater Union forces were stopped in dense forests near the Rapidan River in May 1864, causing heavy Confederate losses that meant the beginning of the end for the South

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9780807118733: The Battle of the Wilderness, May 5--6, 1864

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ISBN 10:  0807118737 ISBN 13:  9780807118733
Editorial: LOUISIANA ST UNIV PR, 1994
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