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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: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #541,059 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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I highly recommend this book for anyone who is interested in the American Civil War.
An American Reader in New Zealand
It was my first event, so I learned a bit myself, but it didn't exactly set off a "spark" of continued interest.
Jim Schmidt
The strength of Mr Trudeau's book comes through his excellent use of personal anecdotes and observations.
Robert C. Olson

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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4 of 4 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 3 people found the following review helpful By Luke Killion on August 25, 2012
Format: Paperback
"Bloody Roads South" by Noah Andre Trudeau is a great analysis of the last mobile campaign during the Civil War in Virginia. There was a small scale chase to Appomattox in the spring of 1865, but the size and intensity of the clashes were nowhere near the ferocity of the fighting during the first two months of Grant's 1864 campaign in Virginia, primarily in the three battles of the Wilderness, Spotsylvania and Cold Harbor.

The greatest strength of this book is the author's decision to focus upon a relatively small period of time in relation to the entire 4 year span of the Civil War. There are many general history books on warfare, many (if not most) have been written by historians who were themselves not present at the great conflicts, and perhaps not even alive during the period in question. While there are some which are excellent (such as the volumes by Shelby Foote and James McPherson used by Ken Burns in his 1990 PBS documentary), I find that to truly get an idea of what happened on the ground, a first person narrative is essential. It is easy to say that so and so a unit attacked, and lost such and such a number of men, but to read an account that is moment by moment from a soldier who was there appears to be the most undiluted source of information on how the battles were fought. This is not to say that I don't read general history, because they provide a larger scope than "a view from the bottom" and allow the actions of the generals and politicians to play out in unison.

The best books usually contain a mix of perspectives from the bottom up, which is exactly what Trudeau has done in "Bloody Roads South".
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