“Engrossing . . . A lengthy review of the events of the final days of Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia and the road to Appomattox” (Mark Silo, author of The 115th New York in the Civil War).
The Battle of Five Forks broke the long siege of Petersburg, Virginia, triggered the evacuation of Richmond, precipitated the Appomattox Campaign, and destroyed the careers and reputations of two generals. Michael J. McCarthy’s Confederate Waterloo is the first fully researched and unbiased book-length account of this decisive Union victory and the aftermath fought in the courts and at the bar of public opinion.
When Gen. Phil Sheridan’s forces struck at Five Forks on April 1, the attack surprised and collapsed Gen. George Pickett’s Confederate command and turned General Lee’s right 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 army when Sheridan relieved Fifth Corps commander Gouverneur K. Warren for perceived failures connected to the battle. McCarthy’s Confederate Waterloo is grounded upon extensive 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.
“A detailed, scholarly analysis of one of the final battles of the American Civil War . . . A studious, unbiased account of the entire affair.” —Midwest Book Review