A Fire in the Wilderness: The First Battle Between Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee
The riveting account of the first bloody showdown between Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee—a battle that sealed the fate of the Confederacy and changed the course of American history.

In the spring of 1864, President Lincoln feared that he might not be able to save the Union. The Army of the Potomac had performed poorly over the previous two years, and many Northerners were understandably critical of the war effort. Lincoln assumed he’d lose the November election, and he firmly believed a Democratic successor would seek peace immediately, spelling an end to the Union. A Fire in the Wilderness tells the story of that perilous time when the future of the United States depended on the Union Army’s success in a desolate forest roughly sixty-five miles from the nation’s capital.

At the outset of the Battle of the Wilderness, General Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia remained capable of defeating the Army of the Potomac. But two days of relentless fighting in dense Virginia woods, Robert E. Lee was never again able to launch offensive operations against Grant’s army. Lee, who faced tremendous difficulties replacing fallen soldiers, lost 11,125 men—or 17% of his entire force. On the opposing side, the Union suffered 17,666 casualties.

The alarming casualties do not begin to convey the horror of this battle, one of the most gruesome in American history. The impenetrable forest and gunfire smoke made it impossible to view the enemy. Officers couldn’t even see their own men during the fighting. The incessant gunfire caused the woods to catch fire, resulting in hundreds of men burning to death. “It was as though Christian men had turned to fiends, and hell itself had usurped the place of the earth,” wrote one officer. When the fighting finally subsided during the late evening of the second day, the usually stoical Grant threw himself down on his cot and cried.
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A Fire in the Wilderness: The First Battle Between Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee
The riveting account of the first bloody showdown between Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee—a battle that sealed the fate of the Confederacy and changed the course of American history.

In the spring of 1864, President Lincoln feared that he might not be able to save the Union. The Army of the Potomac had performed poorly over the previous two years, and many Northerners were understandably critical of the war effort. Lincoln assumed he’d lose the November election, and he firmly believed a Democratic successor would seek peace immediately, spelling an end to the Union. A Fire in the Wilderness tells the story of that perilous time when the future of the United States depended on the Union Army’s success in a desolate forest roughly sixty-five miles from the nation’s capital.

At the outset of the Battle of the Wilderness, General Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia remained capable of defeating the Army of the Potomac. But two days of relentless fighting in dense Virginia woods, Robert E. Lee was never again able to launch offensive operations against Grant’s army. Lee, who faced tremendous difficulties replacing fallen soldiers, lost 11,125 men—or 17% of his entire force. On the opposing side, the Union suffered 17,666 casualties.

The alarming casualties do not begin to convey the horror of this battle, one of the most gruesome in American history. The impenetrable forest and gunfire smoke made it impossible to view the enemy. Officers couldn’t even see their own men during the fighting. The incessant gunfire caused the woods to catch fire, resulting in hundreds of men burning to death. “It was as though Christian men had turned to fiends, and hell itself had usurped the place of the earth,” wrote one officer. When the fighting finally subsided during the late evening of the second day, the usually stoical Grant threw himself down on his cot and cried.
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A Fire in the Wilderness: The First Battle Between Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee

A Fire in the Wilderness: The First Battle Between Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee

by John Reeves
A Fire in the Wilderness: The First Battle Between Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee

A Fire in the Wilderness: The First Battle Between Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee

by John Reeves

Hardcover

$28.95 
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Overview

The riveting account of the first bloody showdown between Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee—a battle that sealed the fate of the Confederacy and changed the course of American history.

In the spring of 1864, President Lincoln feared that he might not be able to save the Union. The Army of the Potomac had performed poorly over the previous two years, and many Northerners were understandably critical of the war effort. Lincoln assumed he’d lose the November election, and he firmly believed a Democratic successor would seek peace immediately, spelling an end to the Union. A Fire in the Wilderness tells the story of that perilous time when the future of the United States depended on the Union Army’s success in a desolate forest roughly sixty-five miles from the nation’s capital.

At the outset of the Battle of the Wilderness, General Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia remained capable of defeating the Army of the Potomac. But two days of relentless fighting in dense Virginia woods, Robert E. Lee was never again able to launch offensive operations against Grant’s army. Lee, who faced tremendous difficulties replacing fallen soldiers, lost 11,125 men—or 17% of his entire force. On the opposing side, the Union suffered 17,666 casualties.

The alarming casualties do not begin to convey the horror of this battle, one of the most gruesome in American history. The impenetrable forest and gunfire smoke made it impossible to view the enemy. Officers couldn’t even see their own men during the fighting. The incessant gunfire caused the woods to catch fire, resulting in hundreds of men burning to death. “It was as though Christian men had turned to fiends, and hell itself had usurped the place of the earth,” wrote one officer. When the fighting finally subsided during the late evening of the second day, the usually stoical Grant threw himself down on his cot and cried.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781643137001
Publisher: Pegasus Books
Publication date: 05/04/2021
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 1,080,675
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

John Reeves is the author of A Fire in the Wilderness and The Lost Indictment of Robert E. Lee. He has taught European and American history at Lehman College, Bronx Community College, and Southbank University in London. John received an MA in European History from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. You can learn more about him at john-reeves.com. He lives near Washington, DC.

Table of Contents

1 The Ghost of Stonewall Jackson 17

2 Private William Reeves 52

3 Confederates on the Turnpike 72

4 The Elephant Appears 92

5 Raging Fire at Saunders Field 113

6 Confederates on the Orange Plank Road 136

7 Nighttime in the Wilderness 166

8 Lee to the Rear 209

9 High Noon on the Orange Plank Road 224

10 Robert E. Lee's Enticing Opportunity 246

11 Grant's Night March 271

12 "The Great Army of the Wounded" 300

13 The Bloody Angle 317

14 Arlington 340

15 Gen. Wadsworth's Body 356

16 Fathers and Sons 371

Acknowledgments 387

Selected Bibliography 393

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