The final volume of the Virginia at War series from the University Press of Kentucky is now available, which includes my essay on the demobilization of Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. My essay follows Lee’s men along the roads and paths out of Appomattox and explores, among other things, their encounters with Federal troops, ex-slaves, as well as their response to Lincoln’s assassination. I have said before that we draw much too sharp a line between the Civil War and Reconstruction. It doesn’t take much of an effort to appreciate that some of the fundamental questions surrounding the war had yet to be decided. My narrow time frame also reinforced the importance of contingency when looking at the past. Many of the men were in the dark about what to expect when they arrived home or how they would go about picking up the pieces of a world that had changed so dramatically in four short years. I was struck by the extent to which their accounts, especially those who lived in the paths of the two armies, emphasized the altered landscapes. Lee’s men also learned of Lincoln’s assassination while on the road. Some of the reports indicated that in addition to Lincoln, the vice-president, secretary of state, and even Grant were also dead. For some of these men, there was no government.
Other authors in this volume include Jaime A. Martinez, Ervin Jordan, John M. Mclure, and Chris Calkins. I am thrilled to have an essay in a book edited by James I. Robertson and William C. Davis.