Ashes of Glory: Richmond at War

Ashes of Glory: Richmond at War

by Ernest B. Furgurson
     
 

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On the day the first shots of the Civil War were fired, a mob in Richmond clambered on top of the Capitol to raise the Confederate flag. Four years later, another flag was raised in its place while the city burned below. Drawing on an array of archival sources, Ashes of Glory portrays Richmond's passion through the voices of soldiers and statesmen, preachers and… See more details below

Overview

On the day the first shots of the Civil War were fired, a mob in Richmond clambered on top of the Capitol to raise the Confederate flag. Four years later, another flag was raised in its place while the city burned below. Drawing on an array of archival sources, Ashes of Glory portrays Richmond's passion through the voices of soldiers and statesmen, preachers and prostitutes, slaves and slavers. Here is the fiery matinee idol John Wilkes Booth, bribing his way into a Virginia uniform. The genteel Elizabeth Van Lew risks her life to spy for the Union, while a hospital matron fights off the rats that feed on the bandages of the wounded.

Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
In a real contribution to the literature on the Civil War, Furgurson (Chancellorsville, 1863, 1992, etc.) paints a lively portrait of the Confederacy's first city in wartime.

Before the Civil War, Richmond, Va., the state capital, was a prosperous city; during the war, it served as the South's administrative capital, military headquarters, and principal industrial center. As a result, Richmond was under almost constant threat from Federal armies. In the early years of the war, the citizenry of Richmond exhibited enthusiasm for the Confederate cause, tempered with nervousness during various Union invasions. After Grant launched his 1864 campaign to subdue the Southern capital, the city developed a siege mentality that ultimately sapped the will of the South. As a result, in a metamorphosis that was a mirror image of Lincoln's in the North, the popularity of Jefferson Davis waned through the war, until the man who once could not walk through Richmond without being mobbed could ride through the streets of the capital without so much as a cheer. As Davis's western military effort collapsed, the war became more and more a fight to preserve Richmond. Also, Furgurson shows that the struggle for mastery of Richmond reached inside the capital, where Union sympathizers and Federal spies worked to undermine the Confederate government and give aid and comfort to the large numbers of Northern prisoners there, interned at the notorious Libby and Belle Isle prisons. While most Unionists made modest contributions, one spy, Elizabeth Van Lew, was acknowledged by generals Butler and Grant to have given valuable information to the Union side throughout the war. The author points out that the Confederate war effort survived the fall of the other major Southern cities—New Orleans, Mobile, Atlanta—but ended immediately when the rebel government abandoned Richmond.

A well-conceived, finely drawn portrait of wartime Richmond.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780679422327
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
09/24/1996
Edition description:
1st ed
Pages:
432
Product dimensions:
6.61(w) x 9.49(h) x 1.50(d)

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