The myths of Lee's final campaign; Few events in Civil War history have generated such deliberate mythmaking as the retreat that ended at Appomattox. As the popular imagination would have it, Robert E. Lee's tattered, starving, but devoted troops found themselves hopelessly surrounded through no fault of their beloved commander, who surrendered them rather than sacrifice their lives. Victors and vanquished met at Appomattox, conventional wisdom says, in a moving surrender ceremony marked by a spirit of mutual regard. According to William Marvel, this tale is a tissue of untruths that sprang from the imaginations of Lost Cause historians and Northern and Southern generals well practiced in the art of fabricating popular legend. Marvel offers the first history of the Appomattox campaign written primarily from contemporary source material, with a skeptical eye toward memoirs published well after the events they purport to describe. Marvel shows that during the final week of the war in Virginia, Lee's troops were more numerous and far less faithful to their cause than has been suggested.
Lee himself made mistakes in this campaign, and defeat wrung from him an unusual display of faultfinding. Finally, Marvel proves accounts of the congenial intermingling of the armies at Appomattox to be shamelessly overblown and the renowned exchange of salutes to be apocryphal.
Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press