The Emerging Civil War Series continues to wrap up its coverage of the end of the war, right in line with the sesquicentennial, by going right down To the Bitter End: Appomattox, Bennett Place, and the Surrenders of the Confederacy.
Author Robert M. “Bert” Dunkerly has worked at Appomattox and written about Greensboro and Bennett Place, so he knows the material well.
What’s particularly exciting about this book, though, is that for the first time, a single volume looks at all the surrenders and weaves them together as a single narrative.
“The ending of the war is a fascinating story with many twists and turns,” Bert explains. “Each surrender unfolded differently, and no two followed the same pattern. Those of us who study the war appreciate how much effort and planning go into the campaigns and battles, but this was no less true of the surrender negotiations, too.”
From the back cover:
Across the Confederacy, determination remained high through the winter of 1864 into the new year. Yet ominous signs were everywhere. The peace conference had failed. Large areas were overrun, the armies could not stop Union advances, the economy was in shambles, and industry and infrastructure were crumbling—the Confederacy could not make, move, or maintain anything. No one knew what the future held, but uncertainty.
Collectively and individually, civilians and soldiers, generals and governors, resolved to fight to the bitter end.
Myths and misconceptions abound about those last days of the Confederacy. There would be no single surrender or treaty that brought the war to an end. Rather, the Confederacy collapsed, its government on the run, its cities occupied, its armies surrendering piecemeal.
Offering a fresh look at the various surrenders that ended the war, this book brings to light little-known facts and covers often-overlooked events. Each surrender, starting at Appomattox and continuing through Greensboro, Citronelle, and the Trans Mississippi, unfolded on its own course. Many involved confusing and chaotic twists and turns.
Misunderstandings plagued many of the negotiations. Communications were problematic. Discipline often broke down. Tempers flared. It was anything but a nice, neat ending to the war.
How did the war finally end? What was the status of former Confederate soldiers? Of slaves? How would everyone get home? Was there even a home to go to? As the surrenders unfolded, daunting questions remained.
Appomattox was just the beginning.
Robert M. Dunkerly is a historian, award-winning author, and speaker who is actively involved in historic preservation and research. He has worked at Appomattox Court House National Historical Park and is the author of The Confederate Surrender at Greensboro. He has spent years analyzing the final months of the war. Dunkerly, co-author of No Turning Back: A Guide to the 1864 Overland Campaign, is currently a Park Ranger at Richmond National Battlefield Park.