Ashes of Glory: Richmond at War

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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. A thirteen-year-old girl compared the stars and stripes to "so many bloody gashes." This richly detailed, absorbing book brings to life the years in which Richmond was the symbol of Southern independence and the theater for a drama as splendid, sordid, and tragic as the war itself. Drawing on an ...
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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. A thirteen-year-old girl compared the stars and stripes to "so many bloody gashes." This richly detailed, absorbing book brings to life the years in which Richmond was the symbol of Southern independence and the theater for a drama as splendid, sordid, and tragic as the war itself. 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. Masterfully orchestrated and finely rendered, the result is a passionate and compelling work of social history.

"Furguson is a lively writer with an eye for the apt quotation and the telling incident...He brings to life a diverse cast of characters."--Newsday

"Succeeds to a remarkable extent...Furguson brings war-torn Richmond to life."--Baltimore Sun

Telling the story of the Confederacy's capital, from July of 1861 to the end of the Civil War, Ashes of Glory portrays not only such luminaries as Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee but also the rank and file of Richmond: the preachers, merchants, matrons, nurses, newspapermen, POWs, prostitutes, bootleggers, and spies, who kept the city bustling even when its destiny seemed most grim. of photos. 3 maps.

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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.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780679746607
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 9/28/1997
  • Series: Vintage Civil War Library Series
  • Pages: 464
  • Product dimensions: 5.25 (w) x 8.03 (h) x 0.95 (d)

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