February 1, 2010

The Battles of Appomattox & The Final Bivouac

"Longtime Civil War historian Chris Calkins began looking for the lost battlefield of Appomattox Station in the early 1970s. Back then, he and many other Civil War buffs feared the site of the April 8, 1865 battle was buried somewhere under asphalt in the Town of Appomattox."

Thus begins this online article about how Calkin's dogged determination and Sherlock Holmes-like skills uncovered the site of the final battle at Appomattox that was then owned by a local trucking company and was in fact not commercially developed.

This wonderful story first appeared online at the Civil War Preservation Trust's website and can be read in full here.

As many serious students know, Chris Calkins is currently the park manager of Sailor’s Creek Battlefield State Park and a man who has devoted much of his adult life to studying the final days of the war in Virginia. He has written extensively on what transpired between Petersburg and Appomattox during the time of March 30 - April 9, 1865.

His first solo hardcover effort was The Battles of Appomattox Station and Appomattox Court House April 8-9, 1865. Published in 1987 when he was Park Historian at Petersburg, the 300-page tome was published by H. E. Howard Inc. as part of their uniform Virginia Civil War Battles and Leaders Series, which I discussed in a previous post. Calkins then issued a companion volume the following year titled The Final Bivouac: The Surrender Parade at Appomattox and the Disbanding of the Armies April 10 - May 20, 1865. That work vividly described the final surrender proceedings and then, for the first time ever as best I can tell, told the story of how the soldiers reacted to the news of Lincoln's death, featured accounts of the homeward bound Confederates as well as the northward bound Yankees.

Second and subsequent printings of these titles are probably easy finds, however as mentioned in that earlier post, finding a first edition of either of these titles, especially in the elusive white dust jacket may prove difficult. As you can see here, there is only one collectors copy of Final Bivouac currently offered for sale at ABE. As for The Battles of Appomattox Station, there is one first edition without jacket currently for sale, though second and later printings are plentiful.

Whether you are a collector or just want a reading copy, these two titles paint an excellent portrait of the final days of the war in Virginia.


Jim Schmidt said...

Paul - Quick note to congratulate you ona GREAT revie wof your Orlando Poe book in the Feb/Mar issue of Civil War News. You're on a roll! Jim (link to review is below)


Paul Taylor said...

Jim -

Thanks for the fyi!