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Description - The Battle of the Wilderness, May 5-6, 1864 by Gordon C. Rhea

Fought in a tangled forest fringing the south bank of the Rapidan River, the Battle of the Wilderness marked the initial engagement in the climactic months of the Civil War in Virginia, and the first encounter between Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee. Gordon C. Rhea, in his exhaustive study The Battle of the Wilderness, provides the consummate recounting of that conflict of May 5 and 6, 1864, which ended with high casualties on both sides but no clear victor. Whereas previous studies have stood solely on published documents - mainly the Official Records and regimental histories - The Battle of the Wilderness not only takes a fresh look at those sources but also examines an extensive body of unpublished material, much of which has never before been brought to bear on the subject. These diaries, memoirs, letters, and reports shed new light on several aspects of the campaign, compelling Rhea to offer a critical new perspective on the overall development of the battle. For example, it has long been thought that Lee through his superior skill as general lured Grant into the Wilderness. But as Rhea makes clear, although Lee indeed hoped that Grant would become ensnarled in the Wilderness, he failed to take the steps necessary to delay Grant's progress and even left his own army in a position of peril. It was only because of miscalculations by the Federal high command that Grant stopped in the Wilderness rather than continuing on to a location more favorable to the Union forces. Throughout The Battle of the Wilderness Rhea gives close attention to the hierarchy of each army. On the Confederate side, he scrutinizes the evolving relationship between Lee and his corps commanders. On the Federalside, he reviews the several tiers of command, including the tense alliance between Grant and George G. Meade, head of the Union Army of the Potomac. Rhea presents a balanced analysis of events and people, command structures and strategies, while gracefully infusing excitement a

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780807118733
ISBN-10: 0807118737
Format: Hardback
(230mm x 157mm x 43mm)
Pages: 520
Imprint: Louisiana State University Press
Publisher: Louisiana State University Press
Publish Date: 1-Sep-1994
Country of Publication: United States

Other Editions - The Battle of the Wilderness, May 5-6, 1864 by Gordon C. Rhea

Book Reviews - The Battle of the Wilderness, May 5-6, 1864 by Gordon C. Rhea

US Kirkus Review » In a meticulous, exhaustive, yet highly readable account, Thomas has done for the Battle of the Wilderness what others have done for Gettysburg, Antietam, and other Civil War battles. Rhea, an attorney and Civil War buff, gives clear historical treatment to one of the major engagements of the Civil War, the first important battle directed by Ulysses S. Grant after his appointment as general-in-chief of the Federal army. In the tangled, thicketed Virginia forest region south of the Rapidan River, Grant's force of approximately 120,000 was opposed by 65,000 men under the command of Robert E. Lee. The Union push was to be the beginning of Grant's campaign to capture Richmond, the Confederate capital. Though his army outnumbered Lee's by almost two to one, Grant met with stiff resistance, and the dense woods made fighting almost impossible. In the end, after both sides suffered heavy casualties, the battle was indecisive. Rhea views the engagement in the context of the increasingly desperate Southern situation in mid-1864 as resources became ever more scarce. He also relates the story of an important, little-known precursor to the battle: a disastrous foray by Federal troops against entrenched Confederates at Morton's Ford on the Rapidan in February of the same year. His narrative brings to life not only Grant, Lee, and James Longstreet, but also lesser known figures like "Brains" Halleck (Grant's predecessor as commander) and Gen. John Sedgwick (who commanded the 8th Pennsylvania Cavalry in the Wilderness and had previously, against his better judgment, commanded the attack at Morton's Ford). An extremely helpful appendix contains the complete order of battle for both sides. All future accounts of the battle will be measured against this work. Scholars and buffs alike will find the volume enthralling. (Kirkus Reviews)

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Author Biography - Gordon C. Rhea

Gordon C. Rhea is also the author of Carrying the Flag: The Story of Private Charles Whilden, the Confederacy's Most Unlikely Hero; The Battles for Spotsylvania Court House and the Road to Yellow Tavern, May 7--12, 1864; To the North Anna River: Grant and Lee, May 13--25, 1864, winner of the Fletcher Pratt Literary Award; and Cold Harbor: Grant and Lee, May 26--June 3, 1864, winner of the Austin Civil War Round Table's Laney Prize; and In the Footsteps of Grant and Lee: The Wilderness through Cold Harbor. He lives in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina.

Books By Gordon C. Rhea

To the North Anna River by Gordon C. Rhea
Paperback, September 2005
Carrying the Flag by Gordon C. Rhea
Paperback, February 2005
Battle of the Wilderness, May 5-6, 1864 by Gordon C. Rhea
Paperback, September 2004