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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Review - Confederate Alamo

Recently I had the opportunity to join John Fox of Angle Valley Press for a book signing. John is the author of Red Clay to Richmond: Trail of the 35th Georgia Infantry Regiment and more recently The Confederate Alamo: Bloodbath at Petersburg's Ft Gregg, April 2, 1865. I had never met John before and I'm ashamed to admit that although I had it on my shelf, I had yet to read Confederate Alamo before our signing.

Finished reading Alamo about a week ago, and am very impressed. I'm not stretching things when I say that it is one of the finest battle studies I've ever read. I grew up in Richmond and some of my earliest memories are of my Dad taking me to the battlefields around Richmond and Petersburg, including Fort Gregg, and several of my friends were historical interpreters at Pamplin Park, just up the road a mile or so from Gregg, so the Ft Gregg story was not unknown to me. And of course the fact that about half of the Federal infantry from New Market participated in the attack on Gregg also interested me. However, what was unknown to me was the magnitude of the slaughter that occurred there. The word "bloodbath" in the subtitle of the book is very appropriate. It is almost inconceivable to read some of the first-hand accounts in Alamo and translate them and the slaughter they describe to the relatively small area that is Ft Gregg. How could a slaughter of this magnitude have been so overlooked for so long? Well, Lee's surrender had a lot to do with that.

In Confederate Alamo, John Fox has unearthed a wealth of previously untapped sources - evenly balanced between North and South - and places the reader at the fort amidst the crisis that was the morning of April 2, 1865, for Lee and A.P. Hill. With only 334 defenders of the fort, the number of recollections by Confederate defenders is impressive. Numerous illustrations of the ground and the officers and men involved appear throughout the book, as do about a half-dozen excellent maps by George Skoch (who also did the maps for Valley Thunder.)

This is definitely a must-read.

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