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BOOK REVIEWS75 find useful, and one that will provide the groundwork for future studies on internal problems within the Confederacy. Anne J. Bailey Georgia Southern University No TUrning Back: The Beginning of the End of the Civil War: MarchJune 1864. By Don Lowry. (New York: Hippocrene, 1992. Pp. 576. $24.95.) George Meade once described Ulysses S. Grant as someone who was "not an ordinary man" (32). In the spring of 1864, Congress confirmed this view by reviving the three-star rank of lieutenant general (last held by George Washington) specifically for President Lincoln's new general in chief. Lincoln had once said that if Grant took Vicksburg, "why he is my man and I am his the rest of the war" (17). Indeed he was, as Don Lowry affirms in his highly perceptive command study of Grant's strategy in 1864. In No TUrning Back, Lowry examines in novellike perspective how Grant took matters into his own hands and set out to win the Civil War for the Union. Lowry begins his story in March 1864 with the conception of Grant's campaign and carries it forward in painstaking detail until Grant crosses the James River in mid-June. He focuses not only on the struggle between Grant and Lee but also on the other fronts in operation crucial to the overall success of the Union. In an all-too-familiar thesis, Lowry contends that Grant's "straightforward , no-nonsense" manner reflected his desire to crush the Confederate armies and end the war before November 1864. He devised a simultaneous advance by all major Union forces from Virginia to Georgia to prevent any one of the Confederate armies from reinforcing another. Strategically, Grant persistently took the war to the Army of Northern Virginia, the aim of his personal efforts. William T. Sherman would move against Joe Johnston, while George G. Meade, whom Grant placed in a position he could ignore, would pursue Robert E. Lee. In addition, these two main armies would be supported on the periphery of the main theaters by Benjamin Butler's Army of the James on the Virginia Peninsula , Franz Sigel's scattered forces throughout West Virginia, and Nathaniel Banks's Army of the Gulf in Louisiana. In early May, Grant and Sherman began to track Lee and Johnston, while lesser offensives kept the Confederates occupied across the map. The Army of the Potomac moved south across the Rappahannock and Rapidan rivers into the Wilderness. In the ensuing Battle of the Wilderness (May 5-6), the armies fought blindly through the woods, suffering heavy casualties due to brushfires. Although Lee's adversaries had, in the past, pulled back, Grant slid off to his left and continued his persistent advance southward, eventually making his way to the Cold 76CIVIL WAR HISTORY Harbor crossroads. According to Lowry, the key to Grant "was his determination" (19). Undaunted by the failures of Banks, Sigel, and Butler, he remained confident of ultimate success. If Lowry does not tell us anything new, he certainly tells it in an insightful manner. He asserts that Grant's war was not a war of attrition; from the beginning he tried to manipulate Lee into open-field combat, where sheer Union superiority would destroy the enemy. Lee turned it into a war of attrition by matching Grant's moves and challenging him with a defense at every turn. In this new kind of relentless, ceaseless warfare, Grant pledged to fight it out if it took all summer. At the conclusion of the Wilderness campaign, the Army of the Potomac was not the same army, since some sixty-five thousand Union soldiers (threefifths of the total number of combat casualties suffered by the Army of the Potomac during the previous three years) had been killed, wounded , or missing since May 4. In contrast to the exhaustive works of Noah Trudeau's Bloody Roads South (1989) and William Matter's IfIt Takes AU Summer (1988), Lowry attempts to analyze how the costly Wilderness campaign integrated into Grant's broader plans for bringing the conflict to a quick and decisive conclusion. It is a complicated story because of the shifting of operations from one theater to another, not...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 75-76
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-04
Open Access
No
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