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The Wilderness (Voices of the Civil War) [Hardcover]

Henry Woodhead

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Uses selections from letters and journals of participants to offer a firsthand account of the Battle of the Wilderness.

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Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Grant "proposes to fight it out on this line if it takes all summer." 7 April 2009
By Steven A. Peterson - Published on Amazon.com
The cover photo features Union General Ulysses Grant in a familiar pose. In some senses, this volume is a testimony to his hard will and refusal to back off when bloodied. The book begins with the savage and terrifying battle at The Wilderness, followed by the sanguinary struggle at Spotsylvania Court House, concluding with the standoff at the North Anna River.

This Time-Life series, "Voices of the Civil War," uses comments from soldiers and civilians alike to provide an "up close and personal view" of the war. As with most volumes, this one begins with an artist's rendering of the Wilderness battlefield (with other maps included as well). There is an introductory essay, entitled "Grant Takes the Reins," discussing his accession to lead all Union forces and his decision to march with the Army of the Potomac, commanded by the hero of Gettysburg. George Gordon Meade. It made for some tensions, but Grant's will doubtless contributed positively to the Northern effort. On page 13, we see the order of battle, the commanders of the two armies, the corps commanders, the division commanders, and even brigade leaders.

There are analytical essays on the battles at the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, and the North Anna (although the latter battle does not note some serious damage suffered by A. P. Hill's corps). But the heart of this book is the reflections taken from letters, diaries, official records, and so on. These add a human element to the volume and give a sense of the effect on people of these battles.

This is a fine volume, showing us the horrors of battle as well as the quiet heroism of many of those involved. A good work, as long as one understands that there will not be great detail on the battles and movements between the conflicts.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wilderness and Spotsylvania battles made real 27 Dec 2000
By Nicholas Provenzo - Published on Amazon.com
I live near the Wilderness and Spotsylvania battlefields--this book has helped me understand this nearby history greatly with its intriguing combination of firsthand sources, context-setting storytelling and tactical analyses. This series is a must.
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