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Bloody Roads South: The Wilderness to Cold Harbor, May-June 1864 Hardcover – August, 1989

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Ulysses Grant's relentless hammering tactics prevented Robert E. Lee from regaining the strategic initiative in 1864, although the Southern general's defensive operations during May-June of that year are regarded by many as his greatest military accomplishment. It was during this campaign that Grant came to be called "The Butcher" because of the horrendous casualties he was willing to accept as he ordered assault after assault. He did not retreat after suffering tactical defeats in the battles of the Wilderness, Spotsylvania Courthouse and Cold Harbor, but continued to push his troops ever closer to the rebel capital of Richmond. Not a formal campaign study, this is a dramatic account told through the eyes of soldiers, civilians and government leaders. One of the elements historian Trudeau dramatizes is the shifting emotional reaction of President Lincoln as he worried whether Grant would prove as faint-hearted as other generals who had faced Lee in the field. When word was brought from Grant that "There is no turning back," the president literally kissed the messenger, for this was probably the most important of several historic turning-points in the four-year Civil War. Illustrations.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

This popularly written account of the initial months of Grant's decisive Virginia campaign against Lee will find a ready audience among Civil War buffs. Done in the episodic, you-are-there style of such writers as Cornelius Ryan, it rests mainly on a host of published first-hand accounts and regimental histories. By 1864 the war in the East had become a test of wills and endurance. How the ordinary soldiers and civilians measured up to that test through 40 days of horrific carnage is the book's main focus. Although devoid of sweeping conclusions and with few notes, the book's presentation of the campaign's strategy and the tactics of individual battles is clear. Excellent for the general reader and libraries of any size.
- Thomas E. Schott, Office of History, Engineering Installation Div., Tinker Air Force Base, Okla.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Series: Bloody Roads South (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 354 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; 1st edition (August 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316853267
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316853262
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #641,286 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Aussie Reader on March 20, 1998
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This first book of Noah Andre Trudeau's trilogy covering the final stages of the Civil War offers an excellent account of the fighting in the Wilderness and at Cold Harbor between May - June 1864. The personal accounts of the soldiers experiences during the fighting are well presented. The action scenes are well written and the book flows along quite well. An enjoyable book to read for anyone interested in this period of time.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Jim Schmidt on February 16, 2012
Format: Paperback
I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for this book.

In 1992, living in Columbia, Missouri, I attended a local Civil War living history event at the behest of a friend who was becoming interested in the Civil War. It was my first event, so I learned a bit myself, but it didn't exactly set off a "spark" of continued interest.

In the fall of 1993, I was in Richmond, VA, on a week-long business trip. Having flown in a day or two early, I took some time to visit some of the historic sites, including St. John's Church, where Patrick Henry delivered his famous "Give me liberty, or give me death!" speech. On a lark I also visited the Cold Harbor battlefield, more so for my friend in Columbia than for myself. I had pulled into a small parking lot and was reading one of the wayside exhibits when an National Park Service ranger came up to me and asked if I'd be interested in joining a van of senior citizens for a tour of the battlefield. I said yes, and it changed my life. The ranger took us from the Confederate lines to the Union lines to the Old Cold Harbor crossroads, stopping at each point and regaling us with information and stories from the battle.

I was hooked.

Over the next few days I explored more of the Richmond battlefields and area - the National Cemetery, the White House and Museum of the Confederacy, and other spots.

I also bought my first Civil War book; this one: Noah Andre Trudeau's Bloody Roads South. I read it in every free moment during the business trip and finished it on the flight home. When I did get back to Columbia, I told my friend with great excitement what it was like to be on a "real" Civil War battlefield.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan Gianos-Steinberg on May 27, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This is a 330 page account of the entire Overland campaign that reads much like a diary from April to mid June as the Army of the Potomoc goes from north of the Rapidan to Petersburg. The account shifts back and forth from the workings of the two armies to Richmond/Washington and elsewhere.
Most of the book focuses on primary sources to tell the story, with nice anecdotes on just about every page. However, without the use of footnotes and with only 4 maps total (which are incredibly hard to comprehend), the flow of battle is exceedingly hard to follow.
This book certainly doesn't compare to the Rhea trilogy that covers the same campaign in any way whatsoever. This is more of a primer for the beginner before reading Rhea's books.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By An American Reader in New Zealand on May 6, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It is hard to find books on Grant's 1864 campaign against the Army of Northern Virginia, and this book fills the void admirably. The book is very well-written, and it held my attention throughout. I highly recommend this book for anyone who is interested in the American Civil War.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Mike Davis on March 19, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
At the youthful age of 55 (a couple of years ago), after NOT reading a Civil War book in my life to that point, I read a book from my small, local library. That did it; I was hooked. Next came Killer Angels, and anything else I could get my hands on. Last May, the wife and I ventured to Gettysburg's hallowed soil. Maybe it is my age that finally lets me appreciate what this Great War meant to our country. Shiloh, Antietam, Fredricksburg, Chancellorsville, G-Burg...amazing stories, incompetency, fatigue, hunger, and bloodshed beyond human comprehension. After three bloody years, with Grant having the war machine to finally end this horrible carnage, the Northern forces took the battle to the South in a series of battles over a two-month period in the ravaged terrain of old Virginia. This book, Bloody Roads South, was an absolute tremendous read as it spelled out the battles and manuevering from both sides of the lines. As soon as I finish Gettysburg, The Second Day, I will be picking this up again to re-fresh my memory of the magnitude of these battles. Grant's casualties were far more than Lee's, but the South's dwindling reserves, supplies and men,eventually, could not overcome these forces.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Robert C. Olson VINE VOICE on August 18, 2007
Format: Paperback
Good, concise overview of the very bloody (84,000 casualties in approximately 40 days of continuous battle)Virginia Overland Campaign between Robert E. Lee and U. S. Grant in May and June of 1864. Actual battle narrative is relatively brief and to the point. The strength of Mr Trudeau's book comes through his excellent use of personal anecdotes and observations. To hear the actual participants describe the scenes, smells, sounds, and pathos of the battles gives one a better understanding of the horrors of those grisly conflicts. The time of chivalry was over; TOTAL WAR was afoot. As Mr. Trudeau points out, Grant knew how to win, but could his men withstand the gruesome sacrifice during almost 40 days of constant battle? Lee also knew that this was the ultimate crucible and he must use every trick he could to defeat this foe. But, in the end after Cold Harbor and a combined 84,000 casualties, of which only 30,000 were Confederate, who was the victor? Lee knew that he could never replace his valiant fighters, but, Grant knew that he had an almost inexhaustible supply of soldiers and with each battle they were getting better and better. So in the end Grant, "The Butcher" as he was called behind his back, literally ground Lee and his army to dust.
One inexcusable flaw in this otherwise good Civil War history was the lack of battle maps. To discuss a battle without a good map makes if very difficult to follow the action even for a good civil war buff. I have no clue as to why Mr. Trudeau did not include any good maps in his book. Therefore, I highly recommend that you get several good maps to follow along with his otherwise excellent description of the battles.
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