Monday, April 6, 2020

Booknotes: Obstinate Heroism

New Arrival:
Obstinate Heroism: The Confederate Surrenders after Appomattox by Steven J. Ramold (UNT Press, 2020).

The surrender of Lee's army on April 9, 1865 still left many thousands of organized Confederate troops physically and materially capable of further resistance. In some places, the nearest Union forces were well out of contact and very far away indeed. Nevertheless Appomattox and evolving events quickly convinced most Confederate generals and common soldiers alike that further resistance was fruitless. Recounting the Confederate surrenders in North Carolina, Alabama, and the Trans-Mississippi along with the final clashes of arms that preceded them is Steven Ramold's Obstinate Heroism: The Confederate Surrenders after Appomattox.

From the description: "Although pressed by Union forces at varying degrees, all of the remaining Confederate armies were capable of continuing the war if they chose to do so. But they did not, even when their political leaders ordered them to continue the fight. Convinced that most civilians no longer wanted to continue the war, the senior Confederate military leadership, over the course of several weeks, surrendered their armies under different circumstances."

Though General Johnston's capitulation in North Carolina has been abundantly documented in the recent literature, events the occurred out west and across the Mississippi have received lesser attention. As mentioned above, Ramold's study demonstrates how differently each major post-Appomattox surrender played out. "Gen. Joseph Johnston surrendered his army in North Carolina only after contentious negotiations with Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman. Gen. Richard Taylor ended the fighting in Alabama in the face of two massive Union incursions into the state rather than try to consolidate with other Confederate armies. Personal rivalry also played a part in his practical considerations to surrender. Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith had the decision to surrender taken out of his hands—disastrous economic conditions in his Trans-Mississippi Department had eroded morale to such an extent that his soldiers demobilized themselves, leaving Kirby Smith a general without an army. The end of the Confederacy was a messy and complicated affair, a far cry from the tidy closure associated with the events at Appomattox."

This review copy made it through the blockade in a fast runner. The port remains open for business, but only time will tell when it is considered safe again for the supplier warehouses to discharge their contents generally.

1 comment:

  1. Ramold was a professor of mine at Eastern Michigan University, and one of my favorites. If for nothing else, I plan to buy this to support someone I greatly appreciated being tutored under.


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