The Longest Night: A Military History of the Civil War

The Longest Night: A Military History of the Civil War


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The Longest Night: A Military History of the Civil War by David J. Eicher, Lee Vande Visse

In this compelling new account of the American Civil War, noted historian David Eicher gives us an authoritative history of battle from the first shots at Fort Sumter to Lee's surrender at Appomattox. As a strictly military history, The Longest Night covers hundreds of engagements, both well known and obscure, including the oft-neglected Western theater and naval actions along the coasts and rivers. The result is a gripping popular history that will fascinate anyone just learning about the Civil War while offering more than a few surprises for longtime students.

Drawing on hundreds of sources and excerpts from correspondence by those who fought the war, The Longest Night conveys a real sense of life -- and death -- on the battlefield. In addition, Eicher analyzes each side's evolving strategy; examines the tactics of Lee, Grant, Johnston, and Sherman; and discusses significant topics such as prisons, railroads, shipbuilding, clandestine operations, and the role of African-Americans in the war. This is an indispensable chronicle of the war that James M. McPherson, in the Foreword, calls "the most dramatic, violent, and fateful experience in American history."

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780684849447
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication date: 09/01/1901
Pages: 992
Product dimensions: 6.25(w) x 9.25(h) x 2.00(d)

About the Author

David J. Eicher is an astronomer and Civil War historian. The managing editor of Astronomy magazine, he is the author of several books on the Civil War, among them Mystic Chords of Memory: Civil War Battlefields and Historic Sites Recaptured and The Civil War in Books: An Analytical Bibliography. He lives with his wife and son in the Milwaukee suburbs.

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The Longest Night 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
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'From April 12, 1861, to June 2, 1865, the light of the great experiment of democracy burned but dimily as more than 8,700 battles and skirmishes swept across the land and extinguished more than 620,000 lives North and South. For all Americans, it was the longest night.'--from the frontispiece. By one estimate, the Civil War literature has swelled to more than 70,000 books, including multi-volume editions by Bruce Catton, Douglas Southall Freeman, Shelby Foote, and others. The best one-volume general work on the Civil War (which discusses political, economic, and social issues as well as military matters) is BATTLE CRY OF FREEDOM, the Pulitzer Prize-winning work by James M. McPherson (Oxford Univ. Press, 1988). Until now, however, there has been no standard one-volume military history of the Civil War. In THE LONGEST NIGHT, David J. Eicher has filled this gap by providing a comprehensive narrative of some 450 military engagements--major battles and minor skirmishes (although, for those who were killed, the skirmishes were not minor). From the first shots fired at Fort Sumter (South Carolina), to Lee's surrender to Grant at Appomattox Court House (Virginia), Eicher covers the 'big battles': the bloodbath at Shiloh (Pittsburgh Landing, Tennessee); Antietam, the war's bloodiest day (Sharpsburg, Maryland); the Union debacle at Fredericksburg (Virginia); the stalemate at Stones River (Murfreesboro, Tennessee); Lee's master stroke at Chancellorsville (Virginia); the three-day battle at Gettysburg (Pennsylvania); the seige and fall of Vicksburg (Mississippi); the stunning Confederate victory at Chickamauga, 'the river of death' (Georgia), the battles for Chattanooga; Grant's campaign into the Wilderness and his worst blunder, at Cold Harbor (Virginia); Sherman's capture of Atlanta and March to the Sea; the siege of Petersburg (Virginia), and the collapse of Lee's army. In addition to his coverage of the large battles, Eicher devotes much attention to the Western Theater, the Trans-Mississippi, the many naval actions along coastlines and on rivers, and many other aspects that earlier one-volume histories have brushed over lightly. 'I have supplemented this military history,' Eicher writes, 'with the words of the participants themselves, and I have based the narrative on numerous manuscript collections and recently published battle histories, diaries, letter collections, and biographies. . . . The result is a popular military history that can be thought of as a companion to McPherson's distinguished work.' It took me a month to finish this 990-page tome, but it was time well spent. Eicher paints his impressive military mural on a large canvas, revealing fascinating details often ignored by other literary artists. As the panorama spreads out before us, we are appalled at the slaughter--a total of at least 621,538 dead, North and South--a number approximately equal to the American deaths in all other wars combined. THE LONGEST NIGHT deserves a place on your bookshelves; it earns five stars--the highest recommendation.