|Union soldiers near the Battle of North Anna in May of 1864. |
They are on a small bridge. A larger pontoon bridge is behind them.
Published in 2014 by Blackstone Audio.
Read by Grover Gardner.
Duration: 14 hours, 11 minutes.
Joseph Wheelan's Bloody Spring is a look at General Grant's Overland Campaign from May to June in 1864. This was Grant's first experience against Robert E. Lee and he brought a change in strategy to the Eastern Theater.
Rather than try to defeat Lee in a single battle like the previous generals, Grant decided that it was best to find Lee, engage in a battle and never disengage and let the superior resources and manpower grind Lee's army into surrender. Grant understood that when Lee surrendered the Confederacy would surrender.
Wheelan spends little time talking about the causes of the war, but he does offer a short recap before he delves into a lively and interesting narrative history of the forty days of the Overland Campaign. This campaign had several of the most brutal battles of the war, including The Battle of the Wilderness, Spotsylvania CourtHouse, Yellow Tavern, Cold Harbor, North Anna and the beginning of the Siege of Petersburg. It was also rough on the Confederate leadership. Famed cavalry general J.E.B. "Jeb" Stuart was killed and trusted General James Longstreet (Lee called him his "Old War Horse") was severely wounded early on and forced to recuperate for several months.
We learn about the first major uses of African-American soldiers, Union engineering marvels that overcame the swamps and rivers, the quickly-evolving use of breastworks. Sometimes, we see brilliant maneuvers and choices from the leadership. More often, we see questionable choices from both armies.
These fights were horrific. Wheelan's re-telling does not pretty it up for the listener. This was a nightmare campaign. It started on the site of the Battle of Chancellorsville from the previous year. There were fights among the exposed skeletons that were ripped from their shallow graves by cannon fire, night marches through forest fires, wounded men being burned alive, hand-to-hand combat in trenches and the single most deadly hour of the Civil War.
Grover Gardner read this audiobook and did a fantastic job. This was a surprisingly well-told story and Gardner's reading added to that.
I rate this audiobook 5 stars out of 5. It can be found on Amazon.com here: BLOODY SPRING: FORTY DAYS that SEALED the CONFEDERACY'S FATE by Joseph Wheelan.