Book Review: Grant vs Lee: Favorite Stories and Fresh Perspectives from the Historians at Emerging Civil War


by Chris Mackowski and Dan Welch, editors

El Dorado Hills, Ca.: Savas Beatie, 2022. Pp. xxxii, 304. Illus., maps, notes, index. $29.95. ISBN: 1611215951

Insightful ‘Snap Shots” of the Final Year of the Civil War in Virginia

Grant vs. Lee consists of 45 short essays from the historians at “Emerging Civil War”, which tell stories about some of the events of the war involving many of the most famous generals and armies. Originally posted on the ECW blog, these rather comprise a “best of” collection covering the war in Virginia in its final year, during which some of the most significant events of the war occurred, the Overland Campaign, the protracted siege of Petersburg, Lincoln’s re-election, the Appomattox Campaign, and surrender of Robert E. Lee to Ulysses S. Grant on April 9, 1865.

Although not a comprehensive history of the final year of the war in the Eastern Theatre, we get a look at the generalship of both Grant and Lee, which receives significant consideration in these pages, but they also deal with a wide range of other subjects, particular battles and turning points, war photography, hospitals, unit histories, poetry, and more. In this way, the essays throw fresh light on these events, helping the reader – whether serious scholar or interested layman -- better understand how events unfolded and what life was like.

The first six essays deal with the Battle of the Wilderness, the most significant were by Sarah Bierle, who produced two papers on letters from soldiers and the fighting at Saunders Field. Five papers deal with various aspects of the Battle of Spotsylvania, that by Chris Mackowski being particularly valuable. The following thirteen papers deal with North Anna, and Cold Harbor, and include a fascinating contribution by Robert Dunkerly on the myths of Cold Harbor. The final six papers deal with the events at Appomattox, with an insightful contribution by Kevin Pawlak on Ely Parker, a native American who disproved William Seward’s prediction that ”the affair between white men” would be settled “without any Indian aid”, by rising to become one of Grant’s principal staff officers and actually wrote out the terms of Lee’s surrender.

Grant vs. Lee is an interesting and important contribution to Civil War scholarship.


Our Reviewer: David Marshall has been a high school American history teacher in the Miami-Dade School district for more than three decades. A life-long Civil War enthusiast, David is president of the Miami Civil War Round Table Book Club. In addition to numerous reviews in Civil War News and other publications, he has given presentations to Civil War Round Tables on Joshua Chamberlain, Ulysses S. Grant, Abraham Lincoln, the Battle of Gettysburg, and the common soldier. His previous reviews here include, Lincoln Comes to Gettysburg, Passing Through the Fire: Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain in the Civil War, The Summer of ’63: Vicksburg and Tullahoma, Crosshairs on the Capital: Jubal Early’s Raid on Washington, Ends of War: The Unfinished Fight of Lee's Army after Appomattox, Voices of the Army of the Potomac, The Record of Murders and Outrages, Gettysburg 1963, No Common Ground, Confederate Conscription and the Struggle for Southern Soldiers, Stephen A. Swails, The Great ‘What Ifs’ of the American Civil War and Chained to History




Note: Grant vs. Lee is also available in e-editions.


StrategyPage reviews are published in cooperation with The New York Military Affairs Symposium

Reviewer: David Marshall   

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