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January 30 , 2014

Lee's Miserables

Life in the Army of Northern Virginia from the Wilderness to Appomattox
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Overview

Never did so large a proportion of the American population leave home for an extended period and produce such a detailed record of its experiences in the form of correspondence, diaries, and other papers as during the Civil War. Based on research in more than 1,200 wartime letters and diaries by more than 400 Confederate officers and enlisted men, this book offers a compelling social history of Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia during its final year, from May 1864 to April 1865.

Organized in a chronological framework, the book uses the words of the soldiers themselves to provide a view of the army's experiences in camp, on the march, in combat, and under siege – from the battles in the Wilderness to the final retreat to Appomattox. It sheds new light on such questions as the state of morale in the army, the causes of desertion, ties between the army and the home front, the debate over arming black men in the Confederacy, and the causes of Confederate defeat. Remarkably
rich and detailed, Lee's Miserables offers a fresh look at one of the most-studied Civil War armies.


"A landmark book. . . . When the end came, the men of the Army of Northern Virginia passed into legend. Power's important study brings a large measure of reality back to their story. – Edward D. C. Campbell, Jr., American History

"Power's research is voluminous and his conclusions sensible and thought-provoking. The result is a major and welcome addition to the literature of how armies are made and how they die. – Steven E. Woodworth, Blue & Gray Education Society Newsletter

"A classic Civil War study – immensely useful to the historian, vigorous and enlightening to the common reader. It is a glimpse into the American soul: what is best and worst about us, our riches and griefs, discontents, yearnings, murderous urges, and abiding faith. – Donald McCaig, Washington Post Book World

"One of the finest works ever written on the Army of Northern Virginia. – Keith Bohannon, Civil War History

Based on research in more than 1,200 wartime letters and diaries by more than 400 Confederate officers and enlisted men, Lee's Miserables offers a compelling social history of Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia during its final year, from May 1864 to April 1865. The book uses the words of the soldiers themselves to provide a richly detailed view of the army's experiences in camp, on the march, in combat, and under siege – from the battles in the Wilderness to the final retreat to Appomattox.
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