The Battle of Five Forks, explained former Confederate General Thomas Munford long after the Civil War, “could be classified as a mere skirmish, but no other fight of the entire four years’ struggle was followed by such important consequences.” The battle broke the long siege of Petersburg, triggered the evacuation of Richmond, precipitated the Appomattox Campaign, and destroyed the careers and reputations of two opposing generals. Michael J. McCarthy’s Confederate Waterloo is the first fully researched and unbiased book-length account of this decisive Union victory and the unpredictable aftermath fought in the courts and at the bar of public opinion.
General Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia had been locked into the sprawling defenses surrounding the logistical stronghold of Petersburg and the Southern capital at Richmond for more than eight months when General Grant launched an offensive against Lee’s exposed right flank. A series of battles led up to April 1, when General Phil Sheridan’s forces struck at Five Forks. The attack surprised and collapsed General George Pickett’s Confederate command and turned Lee’s flank. An attack along the entire front the following morning broke the siege and forced the Virginia army out of its defenses and, a week later, into Wilmer McLean’s parlor to surrender at Appomattox.
Despite this decisive Union success, Five Forks spawned one of the most bitter and divisive controversies in the postwar US Army because Sheridan relieved V Corps commander Gouverneur K. Warren during the battle. The order generated a life-long effort by Warren and his allies to restore his reputation by demonstrating that Sheridan’s action was both unfair and dishonorable. The struggle climaxed with a Court of Inquiry that generated a more extensive record of testimony and exhibits than any other US military judicial case in the 19th Century. In addition to Sheridan and Warren, participants included Gens. Ulysses S. Grant and Winfield S. Hancock, together with a startling array of former Union and Confederate officers.
McCarthy’s Confederate Waterloo is grounded upon extensive archival research and a foundation of primary sources, including the meticulous records of a man driven to restore his honor in the eyes of his colleagues, his family, and the American public. The result is a fresh and dispassionate analysis that may cause students of the Civil War to reassess their views about some of the Union’s leading generals.
|Product dimensions:||6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.00(d)|
About the Author
Michael J. McCarthy graduated from LeMoyne College in 1969 with a BA in history and obtained his Masters in American history two years later. He pursued a career in government and received MPA degrees in public finance from the University at Albany, and in public management from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. During his long career with New York state, however, he never lost his love of Civil War history. As he approached retirement, Mike returned to school and received his Ph.D. in American history from the University at Albany in 2010. Confederate Waterloo is a revised and updated version of his dissertation.
Table of Contents
Foreword Bryce Suderow ix
Chapter 1 Setting the Stage 1
Chapter 2 The Beginning of the Beginning of the End 21
Chapter 3 Sheridan and Warren Have Their Hands Full 38
Chapter 4 A Meeting at Five Forks 58
Chapter 5 "Waterloo of the Confederacy" 79
Chapter 6 "Duty, Honor, Country" 104
Chapter 7 The Court of Inquiry: Sheridan Takes the Stand 139
Chapter 8 The Court of Inquiry Continues 173
Chapter 9 The Court of Inquiry: Reactions 229
Chapter 10 The Continuing Quest to Influence Public Memory 254
Order of Battle 263
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
good book so far