Friday, July 2, 2021

Booknotes: From Arlington to Appomattox

New Arrival:
From Arlington to Appomattox: Robert E. Lee’s Civil War, Day by Day, 1861-1865 by Charles R. Knight (Savas Beatie, 2021).

Though not part of their regular publishing lineup, Savas Beatie does occasionally produce reference books alongside their more typical output of campaign/battle histories, military biographies, and more. Their newest title in that category is From Arlington to Appomattox: Robert E. Lee’s Civil War, Day by Day, 1861-1865. In it "author Charles Knight does for Lee and students of the war what E.B. Long’s Civil War Day by Day did for our ability to understand the conflict as a whole."

From the description: "Lost in all of the military histories of the war, and even in most of the Lee biographies, is what the general was doing when he was out of history’s “public” eye. We know Lee rode out to meet the survivors of Pickett’s Charge and accept blame for the defeat, that he tried to lead the Texas Brigade in a counterattack to save the day at the Wilderness, and took a tearful ride from Wilmer McLean’s house at Appomattox. But what of the other days? Where was Lee and what was he doing when the spotlight of history failed to illuminate him?"

One can imagine that a resource such as this one will save authors and researchers studying the Army of Northern Virginia, eastern theater campaigns, and Lee himself a lot of time in pinning down activities, dates, and places. On a more general level, an information compilation like this one should also contribute to our knowledge and appreciation of the range of daily burdens and responsibilities assumed by anyone tasked with leading a major Civil War army. "Readers will come away with a fresh sense of his struggles, both personal and professional, and discover many things about Lee for the first time using his own correspondence and papers from his family, his staff, his lieutenants, and the men of his army." Source information and extensive editorial text are conveniently placed in the footnotes, and the author also took the effort to create an index of names, events, places, units, and more with expansive subheadings to go along with the page numbers.

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