Their Last Full Measure: The Final Days of the Civil War
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As the Confederacy crumbled under the Union army's relentless "hammering," Federal armies marched on the Rebels' remaining bastions in Alabama, the Carolinas, and Virginia. General William T. Sherman's battle-hardened army conducted a punitive campaign against the seat of the Rebellion, South Carolina, while General-in-Chief Ulysses S. Grant sought to break the months-long siege at Petersburg, defended by Robert E. Lee's starving Army of Northern Virginia. In Richmond, Confederate President Jefferson Davis struggled to hold together his unraveling nation while simultaneously sanctioning diplomatic overtures to bid for peace. Meanwhile, President Abraham Lincoln took steps to end slavery in the United States forever.
Their Last Full Measure relates these thrilling events, which followed one on the heels of another, from the battles ending the Petersburg siege and forcing Lee's surrender at Appomattox to the destruction of South Carolina's capital, the assassination of Lincoln, and the intensive manhunt for his killer. The fast-paced narrative braids the disparate events into a compelling account that includes powerful armies; leaders civil and military, flawed and splendid; and ordinary people, black and white, struggling to survive in the war's wreckage.
this Fort was one of the greatest disasters which had befallen our Cause from the beginning of the war—not excepting the loss of Vicksburg or Atlanta,” wrote Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens, a small, frail man of large intellect known as “the little pale star from Georgia.” Through the Union blockade of Wilmington had come “a considerable number of arms and various munitions of war, as well as large supplies of subsistence.” Wilmington, “choked to wheezing as it was, by a cordon of
driving back Cox’s men three miles. When told that a Union counterattack was imminent, Bragg stopped Hill’s attack and ordered him to preempt it. But when Hill’s troops reached the place where the enemy was reportedly massing, they found no Yankees. Hill’s diversion enabled Cox’s Union troops to move to stronger positions, and the Confederate attack, which had begun so well, sputtered to a halt. On March 10, the Confederates again attacked, but Hoke’s and Hill’s disjointed assaults were repulsed.
exploits.110 Lincoln was dubious about Sheridan when he was appointed commander in the Shenandoah Valley in August; the president thought him “too young.” It was true that Sheridan’s small stature and wiriness made him appear younger than his actual age, thirty-three. Moreover, the president was one foot taller than Sheridan. Sheridan had dispelled Lincoln’s doubts by defeating Early and taking firm control of the Shenandoah Valley. At City Point, Lincoln displayed genuine fondness for Sheridan.
cannot go in to see you, but I must go to the right. The enemy in strong force is operating in that direction. I do not yet know to what extent or when I can visit you.”129 ß Grant’s confidence in General Warren had ebbed steadily since the previous May, when he first had occasion to doubt Warren’s ability during the fighting at Spotsylvania Court House. At one point Grant had nearly relieved Warren of his command for balking at orders to attack. At Cold Harbor and Petersburg, Grant’s
orders to Five Points, and the courier was captured while in plain view. Then, Union infantrymen emerged from the woods and crossed the road in front of the generals. Pickett and Fitz Lee hastily mounted their horses and raced for Five Forks. After crossing Hatcher’s Run, Pickett encountered a line of Fitz Lee’s cavalrymen, now commanded by Munford. They were facing east and retreating slowly before an approaching Union infantry formation one hundred yards away. Pickett asked Munford to hold the