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The Battles for Spotsylvania Court House and the Road to Yellow Tavern, May 7--12, 1864 Hardcover – 1997
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"The most cogent analysis ever written on this confused and often misunderstood campaign." -- Blue and Gray
"No one will ever write about the 1864 Virginia campaign with the same clarity, drama, and perceptiveness of Rhea." -- Civil War History
From the Back Cover
Top Customer Reviews
Not only Spotsylvania but the tragic cavalry battle at Yellow Tavern are covered here. Relevant to this, no other study I have seen, not even bios of Stuart, brings out Stuart and his troopers' role in initially forming the crucial defensive line on Laurel Hill and then deploying the infantry in ideal positions. Little known, but perhaps one of Stuart's finest hours.
Rhea seems even-handed ideologically speaking, and his criticisms of Grant and Sheridan seem well supported by the facts. I would recommend this book not only to scholars but to amateurs who want to know why the Civil War was a horrible conflict. This is not light reading. It is a story of appalling human suffering, courage, and unbelievable sheer endurance.
Rhea, who gave us his "Battle of the Wilderness" in 1994, has only improved upon that award-winning volume with his latest effort. "The Battles for Spotsylvania" covers the vicious and nearly-disastrous engagement between Grant and Lee during the middle weeks of May, 1864. Here, near this sleepy little village southwest of Fredericksburg, Grant's bluecoats met Lee's butternuts in a mortal maelstrom of some of the most bloody fighting the Old Dominion had yet seen.
Long neglected by Civil War writers, this pivotal and oft-confusing series of continuous combats was brought to the modern Civil War buff's attention by William Matter's fine "If It Takes All Summer" in 1988. Rhea, however, takes the torch from here and weaves a masterful narrative, both highly-detailed and smooth flowing at once, to give us, perhaps, the best coverage of this engagement we shall ever have.
How so, one might ask? First, Rhea adds to the records and histories, a plethora of unpublished accounts from diaries, letters, memoirs, newspapers, and the like to give this book the comprehensive personal side of battle. Yet, the strategic and tactical concerns of the fighting do not suffer at all. To be sure, the author, once again, has found that special touch in blending the larger and smaller "pictures" into one without detracting from either.
Nearly every imaginable aspect of the battle is covered in deft fashion, always maintaining the easy-reading flow in the text.Read more ›
There are two important things to know about this story. Firstoff is Grant loses Sheridan for this particular campaign, so, he basically loses his whole cavalry, because Sheridan wants to do a raid on Richmond. Rhea will go into great detail on how this handicaps Grant as far as the decisions he makes during the campaign.
The death of J.E.B Stuart is short but well covered. Rhea explains well what the death of J.E.B Stuart means for the Confederate calvary's future. This explanation is short,but well covered.
I would also read the Epilogue. I just think it's interesting because it basically reiterates what I was taught in college. It does a good jobs of explaining the Confederacy's future and hopes as the war progresses. It also does a good job of explaining Grant's current plans and future actions as well.
When I need to clarify anything on the Overland Campaign, I turn to Mr. Rhea's books.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I am enjoying Rhea "Overland Campaign" series. Very good level of detail. It gives a sense of why the battles turned out the way they did. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Engine61
Gordon Rhea is the recognized expert on the Overland Campaign...a great read.Published 7 months ago by Snakebit12
This is part of Gordon Rhea's series on the Overland Campaign, and possibly the very best study of the campaign ever written. Read morePublished 10 months ago by civil war reader
Great book! Gave a detail account and fair account of the battle.Published 15 months ago by Carl L. Stollar
Loved this whole series. If you like the Civil War get this. It is better if you read the all four books starting with the Wilderness and going through Cold Harbor. Read morePublished 18 months ago by bat12
I have read most of the volumes available in hard cover and this is no more enlightening than any of the previous publications. Read morePublished 18 months ago by richard m roccon