A Stillness at Appomattox: The Army of the Potomac Trilogy and millions of other books are available for instant access. view Kindle eBook | view Audible. An historical account of the final year of the Civil War and the surrender at Appomattox. Editorial Reviews. Review. If every historian wrote like Bruce Catton, no one would read fiction. This marvelously well-told account of the final year.


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Trotting out superlatives for this is like someone who's too late for the party arriving with appetizers. What can I possibly add that hasn't already has been said? The book is famous, and justly so, and it's actually a a stillness at appomattox to see that it is this good, because my elevated hopes were not only not dashed but amply fulfilled and exceeded.

A Stillness at Appomattox by Bruce Catton

Catton set a standard for popular histories that is rarely equalled yes, I know, Mr. Shelby Foote; he is imminent.


But there I am, with the superlatives I said I wouldn't attempt. I was moved, not just by the content, and not just by how beautifully it was stated, but by the fact that someone wrote a stillness at appomattox, period.

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I was moved by the fact that someone achieved this in a book. The achievement alone moves me. The book opens dreamily at a celebratory ball where soldiers and their most-favored ladies danced in a makeshift, large pine-scented hall, arrayed with flags and chandeliers.

There are pencil illustrations of this ball on the Library of Congress website that match Catton's description; and seeing them makes for a a stillness at appomattox supplement to the reading. It was the Washington's Birthday Ball of Feb. Its soldierly participants had no idea their war would drag on for another year, and this evening of finery and dance and civility was an attempt to suspend time and sublimate, if just a little, the inevitability of the savage battles soon to come, for they had no way of knowing that General A stillness at appomattox was about to unleash a new kind of war rarely seen in the memories of history.

It would be total war. There would be no quarter, no letup, no mercy, and scorched earth, and all to the last man if necessary. A stillness at appomattox makes us know that very few of the men dancing on this night would long last, and that the women with whom they danced would lose them.

From there, Catton introduces leaders, battles, incidents, and issues that often seem so disparate that they shouldn't fit so smoothly together into a flowing narrative, and yet they do without pause.


It is the mark of someone who knows his subject -- this a stillness at appomattox -- inside and out; who knows it so well that telling it with absolute mastery, authority, and with more than a little poetry is second nature to him.

These are words written not just out of duty to scholarship but in the service of love. Catton loved his subject.

And this is a love letter to it. A bittersweet love letter from someone who sees the terrible beauty in unimaginable pain and a stillness at appomattox stubbornly clutched hope. Some might say this is a "history written by the victors" text, and certainly the book's slant is Northern.

Under the law they might do this, and nobody could stop them, and if that happened the war was lost forever, because conscripts and bounty men could not make Robert E.

Federal regiments in the Civil War enlisted, usually, for three years. There had been a number of nine-month regiments, earlier, and some had come in to do a two-year hitch, but the three-year enlistment was the rule. Now the time was running out.


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