Like no other conflict in our history, the Civil War casts a long shadow onto modern America," writes David Eicher. In his compelling new account of that war, Eicher gives us an authoritative modern single-volume battle history that spans the war from the opening engagement at Fort Sumter to Lee's surrender at Appomattox (and even beyond, to the less well-known but conclusive surrender of Confederate General Edmund Kirby Smith in Galveston, Texas, on June 2, 1865).
Although there are other one-volume histories of the Civil War -- most notably James M. McPherson's Pulitzer Prize-winning Battle Cry of Freedom, which puts the war in its political, economic, and social context -- The Longest Night is strictly a military history. It covers hundreds of engagements on land and sea, and along rivers. The Western theater, often neglected in accounts of the Civil War, and the naval actions along the coasts and major rivers are at last given their due. Such major battles as Gettysburg, Antietam, and Chancellorsville are, of course, described in detail, but Eicher also examines lesser-known actions such as Sabine Pass, Texas, and Fort Clinch, Florida. The result is a gripping popular history that will fascinate anyone just learning about the Civil War while at the same time offering more than a few surprises for longtime students of the War Between the States.
The Longest Night draws on hundreds of sources and includes numerous excerpts from letters, diaries, and reports by the soldiers who fought the war, giving readers a real sense of life -- and death -- on the battlefield. In addition to the main battle narrative, Eicher analyzes each side's evolving strategy and examines the tactics of Lee, Grant, Johnston, Sherman, and other leading figures of the war. He also discusses such militarily significant topics as prisons, railroads, shipbuilding, clandestine operations, and the expanding role of African Americans in the war.
The Longest Night is a riveting, indispensable history of the war that James McPherson in the Foreword to this book calls "the most dramatic, violent, and fateful experience in American history."
James M. McPherson from the Foreword The story of campaigns and battles -- and of the commanders, strategy, technology, and other matters necessary to understand those campaigns and battles -- that David J. Eicher presents in the following pages is an essential starting point for anyone who wants to know how and why the Civil War came out as it did. The Longest Night is almost unique among Civil War books: it is both a narrative and a reference work. Here the reader will find engrossing accounts of all the battles, large and small, linked together in a manner so lucid and logical that the cause-effect relationships among events taking place in several theaters of war in chronological succession -- sometimes even simultaneously -- emerge with new clarity. The reader will also find detailed descriptions and analyses of many technical aspects of Civil War armies, navies, and armaments: artillery, the Signal Corps, codes and ciphers, intelligence, cavalry, shoulder weapons, and many, many more....No matter what you are looking for regarding the military history of the Civil War, you are likely to find it in this book -- and you will enjoy a good read at the same time.
Jeffry D. Wert Author of Gettysburg: Day Three The Longest Night is a remarkable blend of scholarship and writing. It should stand for a long time as the best and most complete single-volume military history of the Civil War. A splendid achievement.
Frank J. Williams Chief Justice of the Rhode Island Supreme Court and Chair of the Lincoln Forum An extremely well-written and comprehensive story of the battle history of the Civil War that is destined to become a classic.
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