Decisions at The Wilderness and Spotsylvania Court House

The Eighteen Critical Decisions That Defined the Battles

  • Author(s): Townsend, Dave
  • Series: Command Decisions in America's Civil War
  • Imprint: University of Tennessee Press
  • Publication Date: 2019-12-16
  • Status: Active
  • Available in Paper: Price $34.95 | Buy Now
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The successive battles of The Wilderness and Spotsylvania Court House opened Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant’s 1864 Overland Campaign. As the first confrontation between Union and Confederate leaders Grant and Gen. Robert E. Lee, these two bloody battles signaled the new reality of war. The fighting at the Battle of The Wilderness, immediately followed by the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House, was costly for both sides, and while the Union army could replace its losses, Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia could not. It would be exactly one year from Grant’s orders to Gen. George G. Meade stating that Lee’s army would be his objective until the surrender at Appomattox.

Decisions at The Wilderness and Spotsylvania Court House introduces readers to critical decisions made by Confederate and Union commanders throughout the two costly meetings. Dave Townsend examines the decisions that prefigured the action and shaped the course of each battle as it unfolded. Rather than a linear history of the battles, Townsend’s discussion of the critical decisions presents readers with a vivid blueprint of the battles’ developments. Exploring the critical decisions in this way allows the reader to progress from a sense of what happened in these battles to why they happened as they did.

Complete with maps and a guided tour, Decisions at The Wilderness and Spotsylvania Court House is an indispensable primer, and readers looking for concise introductions to the battles can tour this sacred ground—or read about it at their leisure—with key insights into the battles and a deeper understanding of the Civil War itself.

Decisions at The Wilderness and Spotsylvania Court House is the seventh in a series of books that will explore the critical decisions of major campaigns and battles of the Civil War.

DAVE TOWNSEND is a retired engineer.