First, I’ll admit I’m an ‘early war’ guy, so delving into the last phase of the was never as appealing to me as the first part of the conflict. I have visited the Bennett Place in North Carolina many times, and have worked at Appomattox Court House, so the stories of the other surrenders always interested me. I became captivated as I delved into this topic and its layers of complexity.
It was fascinating to learn about the military details, the messy negotiations, the political and social implications, and personalities involved (check out General Jeff Thompson’s farewell address!). Along the way I learned much about how the surrenders were similar in some ways, but in many respects were all different, each with their own set of challenges and unique circumstances. I also came to appreciate various theaters of the war that I am not as familiar with.
I also wanted to include information on visiting the sites today. To me the power of history is tied to place. To be able to walk where our ancestors did and stand where important events happened is powerful. I enjoyed visiting the sites and thinking about the decisions made and the events that happened there.
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Editor’s Note (from Chris):
This was a story I was really, really interested in. I’d thought about writing it myself, but with the ever-increasing amount of material on my plate, I thought it might be better to recruit someone else to write it. I’d had a good experience working with Bert on No Turning Back and so wanted a chance to work with him again. I thought he’d be a good candidate for this book because he once worked at Appomattox Court House and he’d written a book about the surrender at Greensboro, N.C. (where Joe Johnston’s army was). He had expertise on the best-known and the biggest surrenders under his belt, so I thought he’d be perfect–and he was.
Neither of us had been to Fort Towon and Doakesville, the sites associated with the final Confederate surrender of the war, so that proved to be the most challenging part of the book to bring together. In the summer of 2019, I finally visited both (check out that story here). It was a fantastic pair of sites.
To the Bitter End: Appomattox, Bennett Place, and the Surrenders of the Confederacy
Robert “Bert” Dunkerly
Savas Beatie, 2015
Click here to read more about the book, including a book description, reviews, and an author bio.
Click here for the audiobook, read by Bob Neufeld.