A Stillness at Appomattox has ratings and reviews. Eric said: Appomattox, one of “the homely American place-names made dreadful by war.” Appoma. Recounting the final year of the Civil War, this classic volume by Bruce Catton won both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award for excellence. Find great deals on eBay for A Stillness at Appomattox in Books on Antiquarian and Collectibles. Shop with confidence.

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In this game, the boys played soldiers and mowed down advancing Rebels behind the roar of musket and rifle fire.

Catton lived out his passion for the American Civil War from a young age. At the height of his popularity during the years of the Civil War Centennial, Catton made sure that Americans knew the romance, beauty, and tragedy stiolness their civil war.

Belknap Press, ], And so he did. It chronicles the final year of the war from May to April —the year in which Grant led the Army of the Potomac to victory over Robert E. This is a sweeping campaign study that encompasses action at all the major stops: It draws on the words of the soldiers and commanders themselves—primarily those who wore federal blue indeed, the entire narrative privileges the Union perspective.

The book begins with the beauty and yet profoundly sad stage of a military ball, a scene which Catton deploys to illustrate the end of romance and glory in war.

Officers and their stillness pretended, if only for a night, that the grisly realities of war did not exist. In this scene, Union troops predicted their grim fates on the eve of the fight at the Wildnerness: As the war ground on Confederate forces dwindled. Their fewer numbers necessitated a reliance upon defensive breastworks and trenches. As military historian and classicist Victor Davis Hanson has observed, it was a telling feature of the army under Grant at Cold Harbor who fought so bravely, and of the slaughter suffered, that troops pinned their names, written upon pieces of scrap paper, to their uniforms as they went into battle.

He sees, instead and perhaps more appropriately, the profound appmattox and disbelief of those who witnessed the Confederate messenger bearing a flag of truce to the Union lines. The long war would end, they would live to see Easter, and Rebels and Yankees were to be countrymen again in a new nation A Stillness at Appomattox.

Catton retraces the last year of the Civil War from Ulysses S. The author examines the engagements at the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Cold Harbor, the Crater, the siege at Petersburg, the Valley Campaign, and the capture of Richmond.

A Stillness at Appomattox

The book is divided into six chapters but lacks an introduction and conclusion chapter. A Stillness at Appomattox stilkness the third book in a series and as the final book an introduction and conclusion chapter would be valuable additions to help guide the reader. Also, the book lacks sufficient maps of battles which make comprehending the movements and positions of both armies difficult.

Each chapter examines an important battle in the final year of the war and Catton carries the reader through each battle by chronologically following the Army of the Potomac south to Wtillness.

The author relies upon official records published by the War Department in in addition to unpublished diaries of Union soldiers. Catton uses published memoirs, biographies, and a variety of secondary sources from scholarly journals and books.

Appmoattox secondary sources were published stillneess the late s and the s. Catton begins his narrative by reviewing the demographics of the Army of the Potomac. Importantly he reveals that the soldiers were not all volunteers but were men either forced to join or paid to join the army.

In particular, the bounty jumpers and other criminals demoralize the Union army and create problems for the officers. The volunteers that enlisted in had served their three years of duty and a significant portion of the veterans left the army only to be replaced by a cast of thieves, murderers, and drunks. After giving the reader an adequate understanding of the types of men serving in the Army of the Potomac, Catton reviews the character of Grant and Philip Sheridan.

Catton does not solely focus on the tribulations of battle but he examines camp life, weather changes, issues with moving a large army, horrid medical practices, supply delays, and the politics that Grant encountered while waging war. The narrative is framed by the Union perspective giving the book certain strengths and weaknesses. Undoubtedly, a reader gains valuable historical information on the Army of the Potomac, Grant, Sheridan, and other military officials.


Catton portrays Grant as a pensive, determined fighter that possesses the killer instinct. However, an in-depth review of Sheridan is lacking. Catton describes Sheridan repeatedly as on his horse, yelling at his men, riding into the battle with his sword raised. Catton shows the daily life a Union soldier in the last months of the war but this one-sided perspective leaves a reader with more questions than answers.

The narrative ends with the poignant ending of the war which gives the book the title. At Appomattox when Lee sends out a rider to Grant indicating that he will surrender, the soldiers on both sides sat in silence with great anticipation and astonishment. According to Catton, the war ended in an eerie silence and with a great heaviness. In the final paragraphs of the book, the author describes with clarity the human reaction to the end of the war that stand in contrast to the ferocious and relentless battles of the war.

Reprinted by Pocket Books, Inc. The Army of the Potomac finally benefitted from strong leadership, as Ulysses Grant and Phil Sheridan finally made effective use of their brave fighting men. In tandem with George Meade, this new leadership would be the necessary impetus for bringing the war to its conclusion. Distinct in this particular volume is the general disillusionment of those soldiers.

Union soldiers focused more on their own survival rather than romantic notions of heroism or victory as the war dragged on and causalities mounted. Adding to the fatigue resultant from the three previous years, tactics had not caught up with technological advances such as repeating carbine rifles, making battles long and bloody.

A Stillness at Appomattox

After waiting until xt spring, Grant began to move south. Following that was the confrontation at Cold Harbor, another costly attack on a fortified Southern line. Though the army continued to move towards Richmond, the mounting casualty lists lessened Northern morale.

Unable to maneuver further, the Army of the Potomac laid siege to the city. This inability to maneuver did not prevent the North from trying to break through and Catton details one particular attempt. A brigade made of coal miners from Pennsylvania dug underneath the Confederate lines to plant explosive charges and hopefully blow a hole in the defenses.

Though the explosives worked as planned, the follow-up assault degenerated under the weight of poor planning and leadership from corps stilkness Burnside and his subordinates. Rather than a triumph of engineering and ingenuity, the battle of Appoattox became another in a long line of hard fights with great losses and seemingly little gained. With both main armies bogged down outside of Petersburg, attention turned to the critical Shenandoah Valley.

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In response to the perceived threat to the capital, as well as the actual usefulness of the Shenandoah Valley to the Confederates, Grant sent Phil Sheridan to control the region. Local raiders under John Singleton Mosby provided some danger to the Union forces, but also gave Sheridan further reason to treat the Valley and its residents harshly.

As winter turned to spring, and without much else to hope for, Lee gambled on a daring escape from the city. It was a desperate gamble, and both Lee and Grant knew it. At the end of MarchLee launched a small attack on the Union lines as a decoy apppomattox the rest of his army slipped away. The Army of the Potomac repulsed the assault, and again began to pursue the Confederates.

The Southerners attempted a final breakthrough, and when that failed, Stillnesa took the honorable course and surrendered his men to Grant at Appomattox Court House. Catton examines apomattox endeavors of the Army of the Potomac, under the leadership of Lt. During the course of these many months, the two armies fought brutal, devastating conflicts that became known as the battles of the Wilderness, Spotsylvania Court House, St Harbor, Cedar Creek, and Petersburg.

Admirably grounded in the personal letters, narratives, and memoirs of soldiers and units, regimental histories, secondary sources, and the Official Records of the Union and Confederate ArmiesCatton combines a thorough scholarship with an unparalleled flourishing style. No longer retreating and regrouping as under McClellan, the Army soon realized that a more bellicose strategic appomatto guided Grant and his officers. This appkmattox aggression soon enveloped the troops and helped instill an indomitable spirit that, in turn, enabled the troops to endure exhaustive marching and tenacious fighting.


His relentless pursuit of Lee and the defeat of the Northern Army of Virginia provides the necessary ingredient to apppomattox about a successful performance by the Army of the Potomac, as well as a successful denouement to the war.

Countless opportunities to wield a significant blow to the enemy or to take an important entrenched position never materialize due to unclear orders, ignorance of enemy position or depth of entrenchment, and even point of attack.

The author astutely highlights this weakness among the Union army, and stillneds hesitates to admonish the actions or ineptitude of ineffective leaders such as General Benjamin Butler. Again, Catton emphasizes the change in nature of the Army of the Potomac, but he also emphasizes the important changes in the nature of the war itself. The level of casualties and carnage becomes amplified during this campaign because of the implementation of a new tactic: The competing armies increasingly dug in and constructed opposing trenches, almost involuntarily, whenever the forces slowed to face one another.

This new development in the war quickly resulted in futile charges and the prolonged siege that characterized Petersburg, stilnless casualty numbers increasingly exponentially. Changes in technology also further shaped the nature of the war. The works of Bruce Catton continue to excite and engage historians and non-historians alike due to their remarkable style and perspicacity.

A Stillness at Appomattox is no exception. Lacking a clear cut thesis, A Stillness at Appomattox is an open narrative account of the Army of the Potomac in the last year of the Civil War. Written by Bruce Catton, it is the last volume in a trilogy discussing the war that tore the Union asunder.

With flowery prose and in the mold of a novel rather than a historical treatise, this work of Catton achieved immense fame and popularity. For many people the text instigated a desire to study the Appomatfox Civil War. Beginning with stories of balls and cavalry raids, Catton attempts to chronicle the story of the struggle between the Army of the Potomac and the Army of Northern Virginia.

The work really starts to take off when Ulysses S.

Grant takes overall command of Union armies. From here on out the text also becomes a story of how this little, unassuming Westerner shaped the Army of the Potomac stilljess a grand but under-performing army stillneess an effective fighting vehicle capable of redeeming itself in the battles yet appomatrox come.

Having said that, there is no evident bias in the text. Told from a Northern perspective, the work comes away quite clean and without the apponattox that Catton is too friendly in regards to his treatment of the Army of the Potomac and too condescending and bitter in his treatment of the Army of Northern Virginia.

Far from a traditional strategy and tactics work on the Civil War, A Stillness is primarily a campaign history told through the eyes of Northern soldiers. As such, the reader witnesses the horrible carnage of war, the massive industrial capacity of the North, and the respect with which the Northern soldiers held Robert E.

Lee and the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia. Amongst these accounts are other excerpts of the more civil and enduring acts of stillness that only war can produce. A Union officer commenting that the Confederates were human beings just as they themselves were, after observing the Confederates in leisure, is a poignant example of the mortal nature of the conflict.

Using personal letters of the troops, Catton constructs a surprisingly personal picture of the last year of the war. Written for the general reader in mind, someone wishing for an interpretation historical in nature rather than literary may need to search elsewhere.