The Battle of the Wilderness, May 5-6, 1864

Gordon C. Rhea, Author
Gordon C. Rhea, Author Louisiana State University Press $39.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-8071-1873-3
Reviewed on: 07/04/1994
Release date: 07/01/1994
Paperback - 512 pages - 978-0-8071-3021-6
Portable Document Format (PDF) - 536 pages - 978-0-8071-4008-6
Ebook - 536 pages - 978-0-8071-5581-3
Ebook - 536 pages - 978-0-8071-5580-6
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Rhea, a Virginia attorney, offers what will likely become the definitive account of one of the Civil War's most confusing engagements: the Battle of the Wilderness, the first encounter between Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee, fought in Virginia. The author's reconstruction of the fighting highlights the difficulties of controlling troops once they had been committed to action. Grant's original plan was to maneuver Lee out of his defensive position along the Rapidan River, then crush his troops with superior numbers. Instead, Rhea notes, the Wilderness became a ``soldiers' battle,'' with raw courage compensating for inadequate generalship on both sides. Grant relied too heavily on the Army of the Potomac's commander, George Gordon Meade, who failed to coordinate the movements of subordinates disoriented by the broken ground they fought over. Rhea also critizes Lee for consistently taking the offensive with an army that could not afford the major losses it sustained in attacking. History Book Club main selection. (July)
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