Book Review: Spring 1865: The Closing Campaigns of the Civil War

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by Perry D. Jamieson

Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2015. Pp. xx, 288. Illus., maps, append., biblio., index. $34.95. ISBN: 0803225814

A Comprehensive Look at the Final Rounds of the Civil War

It might seem that the closing months of the Civil War had been well covered, but Jamieson, author of several notable works (Crossing the Deadly Ground, Attack and Die, etc.) throws some interesting new light on the subject.

Jamieson looks at the final operations of the war across all theatres, integrating them into an almost seamless narrative. In this way, readers get a real sense of how events unfolded simultaneously across literally across literally thousands of miles from Washington to the Rio Grande.

Jamieson opens with a short overview of the political and military situation on the eve of the final winter of the war. He then devotes a chapter to the fall of Ft. Fisher and Wilmington, another to Carolinas, and one to the Battle of Bentonville. Then in a flashback, as it were, he turns to Virginia, where he uses four chapters to cover the closing months of the Siege of Petersburg, the final battles that forced the Army of Northern Virginia from its defenses, the fall of Richmond and the surrender at Appomattox.

While Appomattox is usually were most accounts of the Civil War end, with a few words on the surrender of Confederate forces elsewhere. But Jamieson doesn’t end with Appomattox. Rather, he spends two chapters, about a fifth of his account on events after Lee surrender, Appomattox, aptly ending with one titled “Scattered Embers.”

In contrast to other treatments of the final months of the war, Jamieson provides a deeper sense of how the people at the time -- citizens, fugitives from slavery, political leaders, and more – perceived the events as they unfolded, often citing letters, diary entries, and such from participants. A volume in the Nebraska series “Great Campaigns of the Civil War,” is a very good contribution to the literature on the subject.

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Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor   


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