“If I can get one more pull at [Grant], I will defeat him.” — Robert E. Lee
“Everything looks exceedingly favorable to us.” — Ulysses S. Grant
Strike Them a Blow: Battle Along the North Anna River, May 21-25, 1864
by Chris Mackowski
Savas Beatie, 2015
192 pp.; 179 images, 11 maps
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“Highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the Battle along the North Anna River and anyone who is touring the battlefields of Virginia. . . . Mackowski should be praised for what he has accomplished here.” — Gettysburg Chronicle
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About the Book: For sixteen days the armies had grappled—a grueling horror-show of nonstop battle, march, and maneuver that stretched through May of 1864. Federal commander Ulysses S. Grant had resolved to destroy his Confederate adversaries through attrition if by no other means. He would just keep at them until he used them up.
Meanwhile, Grant’s Confederate counterpart, Robert E. Lee, looked for an opportunity to regain the offensive initiative. “We must strike them a blow,” he told his lieutenants.
The toll on both armies was staggering.
But Grant’s war of attrition began to take its toll in a more insidious way, as well. Both army commanders—operating on the dark edge of exhaustion, fighting off illness, pressure-cooked by stress—began to feel the effects of that continuous, merciless grind in very personal ways. Punch-drunk tired, they began to second-guess themselves, began missing opportunities, began making mistakes.
As a result, along the banks of the North Anna River, commanders on both sides brought their armies to the brink of destruction without even knowing it.
Picking up the story he began in his Emerging Civil War Series book A Season of Slaughter: The Battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse, historian Chris Mackowski follows the road south to the North Anna River. Strike Them a Blow: Battle Along the North Anna offers a concise, engaging account of the mistakes and missed opportunities of the third—and least understood—phase of the Overland Campaign.
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Strike Them a Blow also contains:
- A foreword by Gordon C. Rhea
- Appendix A: The Battle of Wilson’s Wharf by Emmanuel Dabney
- Appendix B: The Battle of Milford Station by Daniel T. Davis
- Appendix C: The Eye of the Storm by Chris Mackowski
- Appendix D: Lee’s Engineer: Martin Luther Smith by Rob Orrison
- Appendix E: Preserving North Anna: A Personal Battlefield Journey by John F. Cummings III
- Appendix F: Preserving North Anna: The Art of the Battle (an interview with artist Donna Neary) by Chris Mackowski
- Order of Battle
- Suggested Reading
Footnotes, Sources, and Errata
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Read More About the Book:
ECW first previewed Strike Them a Blow: Battle Along the North Anna on November 5, 2014.
Emerging Civil War Correspondent Pat Tintle did a feature about the book on June 7, 2015: “Mackowski’s New ‘Strike Them a Blow’ Looks at the Overlooked Phase of the Overland Campaign”
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About the Author: Chris Mackowski, Ph.D., is co-founder and editor-in-chief of Emerging Civil War. He has authored or co-authored a dozen books on the Civil War, and his work has appeared in Civil War Times, America’s Civil War, Hallowed Ground, and Blue & Gray. Chris is a professor of journalism and mass communication at St. Bonaventure University in Allegany, NY, and historian-in-residence at Stevenson Ridge, a historic property on the Spotsylvania battlefield. He also works Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park. Read his blog, www.emergingcivilwar.com.
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