Bloody Roads South: The Wilderness to Cold Harbor May-June 1864 (review)
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286CIVIL WAR HISTORY Jackson's antagonist, Nicholas Biddle. Yet, there is no discussion of the inherent ethical conflict of interest, either from a modern or contemporary point of view. The book also tries to establish and evaluate the Herald's popularity among the people. However, it discards interpretations by such writers as Dan Schiller and Michael Schudson and lamely concludes that the Herald had a large circulation and that its contents "had a wide and diverse appeal." The author is critical of Bennett on a number of occasions (for his sensationalism, his hysteria, his bigotry) but, on the whole, offers a sympathetic portrait. Crouthamel is at his best in providing primary evidence to support Bennett's role as a creative and controversial newspaper editor. He is far less convincing when he attempts analysis of Bennett the man, his place in his society, or the role of the Herald in shaping public opinion. Fred F. Endres Kent State University Bloody Roads South: The Wilderness to Cold Harbor May-June 1864. By Noah Andre Trudeau. (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1989. Pp. viii, 354. $19.95.) Bloody Roads South begins with the rather dubious claim that the battles of the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, and Cold Harbor, May to June 1864, make up a largely forgotten campaign which needs remembering throughout this book (viii). No campaign in Virginia during the Civil War has failed to receive extensive treatment, either in the records of participants or later histories and monographs. The one thing that Trudeau can claim, and it is the strength of his book, is that nobody has brought together in one volume so many eyewitness accounts from both sides. From March 8 to June 13, 1864, we read about each day of the campaign in the words of participants high and low, South and North. Sometimes, the amassing of detail which this technique fosters can be quite startling in its vivid evocation of long-gone characters and moments. Take the story of Lieutenant Colonel Charles B. Christian's attempt, on Monday, May 30, 1864, to find a color bearer for the 49th Virginia (25657 ). Since the start of the campaign, nine color bearers had been lost. Consequently, volunteers were in short supply. Christian went along the line until he saw a "tall, lanky, beardless boy," John William Orndorff. "Will you carry the colors?" his colonel asked. "I will carry them," replied Orndorff. "They killed my brother the other day, now damn them let them kill me too." And they did. Adjutant E. M. Woodward of the Second Pennyslvania Reserves recalled seeing the rebel color bearer get to the muzzles of the Union cannon before "he was struck by a shell BOOK REVIEWS287 and literally torn to pieces." A friend recalled Orndorff's cap flying up ten feet in the air, as "fragments of his flesh were dashed in our faces." Such stories, ably woven together by Trudeau, provide some absorbing reading. But the technique of letting the participants speak entirely for themselves also has drawbacks. Trudeau's concern for narrative flow inhibits needed editorial comment. For example, U. S. Grant says Lincoln confessed "he did not pretend to know anything about the handling of troops" and that he was content to let Grant run things (23). This view of Lincoln as a military novice, happy to leave everything to his winning general, was exploded long ago by T. Harry Williams who pointed out, in Lincoln and His Generals (1952), that Lincoln became a master strategist, involved in every facet of the war. Trudeau's style does not allow him to comment on Grant's view. Contradictory views are left unreconciled. Horace Porter relates a story of Grant gently tending a dying soldier found at the side of the road (196). Yet we also hear Winfield Hancock and George Meade pleading with Grant to arrange for a truce in order to retrieve the Union wounded at Cold Harbor, some of whom lay untended for four days (302-5). How can these portraits of Grant be squared? In short, this is a book which retells a familiar tale in an absorbing fashion but adds little to our insight. This is a pity because there is...


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