Provided by Savas Beatie LLC
Author Michael McCarthy will be signing copies of his new book, Confederate Waterloo: The Battle of Five Forks, April 1, 1865, and the Controversy that Brought Down a General.
The event is at 1:30 p. m. on Sunday, April 2 at the Manassas Museum (9101 Prince William Street, Manassas). For more information visit manassascity.org/211/Manassas-Museum-System.
General Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia had been locked into the sprawling defenses surrounding the logistical stronghold of Petersburg and the Southern capital at Richmond for more than eight months when General Grant struck beyond his far left flank to break the extended Rebel lines. A series of battles led up to April 1, when General Phil Sheridan’s forces struck at Five Forks. The attack surprised and collapsed General George Pickett’s Confederate command and turned Lee’s right flank. An attack along the entire front the following morning broke the siege and forced the Virginia army out of its defenses and, a week later, into Wilmer McLean’s parlor to surrender at Appomattox.
Despite this decisive Union success, Five Forks spawned one of the most bitter and divisive controversies in the postwar army when Sheridan relieved Fifth Corps commander Gouverneur K. Warren for perceived failures connected to the battle. The order generated a life-long effort by Warren and his allies to restore his reputation by demonstrating that Sheridan’s action was both unfair and dishonorable. The struggle climaxed with a Court of Inquiry that generated a more extensive record of testimony and exhibits than any other U.S. military judicial case in the 19th Century. In addition to Sheridan and Warren, participants included Gens. U. S. Grant and Winfield S. Hancock, and a startling aggregation of former Confederate officers.
McCarthy’s Confederate Waterloo is grounded upon extensive research and a foundation of primary sources, including the meticulous records of a man driven to restore his honor in the eyes of his colleagues, his family, and the American public. The result is a fresh dispassionate analysis that may cause students of the Civil War to reassess their views about some of the Union’s leading generals.
About the Author: Michael J. McCarthy is a graduate of LeMoyne College, class of 1969 with a BA in history. He then received his MA in American history in 1971. Circumstances led him to a career in government and he received MPA degrees in public finance from the University at Albany and in public management from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. During his long career withNew York State he never lost his love of Civil War history, however. As he approached retirement from the position of Assistant Commissioner of the State Department of Transportation, he went back to school and received his Ph.D. in American history from the University at Albany in 2010. His interest in the Battle of Five Forks was kindled during a Capital District Civil War Round Table trip to the battlefield, and this work is a re-edited version of his dissertation.