A unique and compelling examination of the Civil War’s “turning
point”—forty crucial days in the spring of 1864 that turned the tide for the
In the spring of 1864, Robert E. Lee faced a new adversary:
Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant. Named commander of all Union armies in
March, Grant quickly went on the offensive against Lee in Virginia. On May 4 Grant’s army struck hard across the Rapidan River into north central Virginia,
with Lee’s army contesting every mile. They fought for forty days until,
finally, the Union army crossed the James River and began the siege of
The campaign cost ninety thousand men—the largest loss the
war had seen. While Grant lost nearly twice as many men as Lee did, he could
replace them. Lee could not and would never again mount another major
offensive. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox less than a year later was the
denouement of the drama begun in those crucial forty days.
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