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A Stillness at Appomattox (Army of the Potomac #3)

4.32  ·  Rating Details  ·  4,140 Ratings  ·  78 Reviews
When first published in 1953, Bruce Catton, our foremost Civil War historian was awarded both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award for excellence in nonfiction.This final volume of The Army of the Potomac trilogy relates the final year of the Civil War. ...more
Paperback, 1st Anchor Books ed, 438 pages
Published August 1st 1990 by Anchor Books (first published January 1951)
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Keith Don't know if you got an answer, but they are different trilogies. A Stillness at Appomattox is volume three of a history of the Army of the Potomac…moreDon't know if you got an answer, but they are different trilogies. A Stillness at Appomattox is volume three of a history of the Army of the Potomac that fought primarily in Viriginia. (The other two volumes are Mr. Lincoln's Army and Glory Road.) The Centennial history covers the entire war and all the armies and politicians. That set includes Never Call Retreat, Terrible Swift Sword, and The Coming Fury. The Army of the Potomac set is a much more entertaining (less dry) read in my opinion. I hope this helps!(less)
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Mar 15, 2010 Eric rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: war, history, us-civil-war
Appomattox, one of “the homely American place-names made dreadful by war.” Appomattox Court House has a homeliness, but Wilderness Tavern, Spotsylvania, Cold Harbor - the Virginia killing fields of Grant’s overland push - those sound entirely sinister. And then you have the fight-grounds and sites of massacre from three centuries of Indian Wars, which seem to fall on either side of a fine line separating the comical (Tippecanoe, Little Big Horn) from the weirdly resonant (Fallen Timbers, Wounded ...more
May 25, 2011 Richard rated it it was amazing
This is the third installment in Bruce Catton's great Civil War trilogy. Similar to the first two volumes, "A Stillness at Appomattox" continues the style of writing history for modern readers, concentrating on the human motivations central to important events. These books are as readable and enjoyable today as they were originally in the 1950's. Beyond the broad appeal inherent in them, these three volumes, and especially "A Stillness..." were important components in the mid-twentieth century's ...more
Jun 17, 2009 Steve rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, history, war
I re-read this a few years back, and it's simply one of the best history books I've ever read. Grant's brutal sledgehammer campaign, Lee's ferocious response, it's all here, but written in a way that comes across, at times, like some sort of dark war poetry. I think I saw on Goodreads where someone said that Catton was a historian with great heart. I couldn't agree more. And as a Virginian, I love the way Catton captures a familiar landscape, since I actually live only a few miles from the Chanc ...more
Jun 19, 2008 Riannon rated it it was amazing
I guess I read this book out of order, I didn't realize it was the third book in a trilogy. That being said, it worked just fine as a stand-alone book.

The last few months of the Civil War were really brought to life for me by this book (sorry for the cliche phrase). It's well-written and reads like a novel, but it also contains a lot of quite interesting historical information. I've always found the Civil War a fascinating subject, and knew a moderate amount about it before reading this book, b
What can I say about Bruce Catton and this book? I became a life-long lover of all things history because of Bruce Catton. I read these in my early twenties and I can still recall the sweet pleasure I got from realizing that history was actually FASCINATING when written by someone who seemed to sense the past as present.

Life-changing for me.

If you would like to know more about the Civil War and are a beginner - I suggest you start with Catton.

If you need to remember why it is you became fasci
Monte Lamb
Nov 20, 2011 Monte Lamb rated it it was amazing
Shelves: us-civil-war
If there is a better writer on the Civil War then Bruce Catton, I have not found him. If he has written a better book than this one, I have not read it. This book covers the last 14 months of the war with the Army of the Potomac. While it covers all the details and events, its strength is how it puts the events in a greater context of how it affected our country's future.
Jun 07, 2014 Kevin rated it it was amazing
Bruce Catton is from my hometown: Petoskey, Michigan. There is a statue of him outside of the Petoskey Carnegie Library where I checked out books as a child. I have read his short memoir "Waiting for the Morning Train" as well. In it, he writes, very beautifully, of how he, during his own childhood, used to listen to the old men tell stories of their Civil War days, and how the stories would awaken in him a certain poetical feeling.

In his book, he passes the poetical feeling along to us. It incl
Jun 29, 2015 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing
Shelves: civil-war
I loved reading this beautifully written series, which is part love song, part elegiac hymn to the ordinary Union soldier.
Keith Lovell
Sep 23, 2015 Keith Lovell rated it liked it
A little dry but overall a nice union perspective of the end of the war in Virginia.
Jan 03, 2015 Carol rated it really liked it
Bruce Catton was one of the best history writers on the topic of the Civil War. In this book he outlines the battles and strategies of General Grant during the last year of the War. To anyone who is interested in the strategy of the great battles, this is a good book to read. I liked getting to understand, to some degree, how men of war think. The more I learn of the Civil War and it's human devastation, the more incomprehensible it seems.

I also enjoyed Catton's memoir, "Waiting For the Morning
Dec 30, 2015 Keith rated it really liked it
Never was a great army so poorly served by its officers. Never was a victorious army guided by such incompetent leaders. Thus was the fate of the Army of the Potomac. Its rank and file soldiers – through their blood, sweat and unflagging determination – defeated the Army of Northern Virginia in spite of every attempt of their leaders to lose the war (and kill their soldiers in the process).

The brave yet hapless men of the Army of the Potomac deserved a great biographer and they got one with Bru
Jul 18, 2013 Bryan rated it it was amazing
The Army of the Potomac trilogy is hard to find. I read the first book years ago but never got the rest. I finally put together a complete set (thanks, Half-Price Books) and they are as good as I had always heard.

These books are about the war as seen by the private soldier in the Army of the Potomac. The Union's generals are covered mostly in terms of what the soldiers thought of them, and the Confederate generals they knew only by name and reputation are barely covered at all; the Confederate a
Bill Rogers
Aug 10, 2013 Bill Rogers rated it it was amazing
After Lee's suicidal attack broke his Army of Northern Virginia at Gettysburg, Lincoln brought U.S. Grant east. The solders of the Army of the Potomac knew Grant had a great reputation from his brilliant campaigns along the Tennessee and around Vicksburg, but the only general in whom they had faith was Robert E. Lee. Grant was up against the best of the best now, and only time would tell whether his name was "really Ulysses or Useless."

This is the story of Grant's tenure as commander of the Army
Jun 25, 2013 Riley rated it really liked it
Some of the passages in this book are lyrical and very, very good, though others seem overwritten. Bruce Catton does a great job showing how the Civil War in its last campaign had morphed into sometime far darker than the war started as: brutal and bloody trench warfare in which civilians were targeted and the supposed glory of battle was missing.

One description of the change, focusing on how the technology of war had altered in just a few years:

“In other ways, too, the generals had been brought
A Kritzer
Jul 29, 2014 A Kritzer rated it it was amazing
Shelves: civil-war
Catton,... the master of the art of writing. At his best it reads like poetry. Do yourself a favor and read all his Civil War books. He has a bias to the North, but knowing so, going in, you will be well rewarded. My personal favorite is "The Coming Fury".

His "Hallowed Ground" is perhaps the best overall book on the war.

Move on to Shelby Foote to continue your reading pleasure. You will be pleased.

Next on my horizon is the Trilogy by Allan Nevin.

Jeff Sulman
Excellent narrative account of Civil War. There were some major holes in the trilogy. Volume 2 ends with Burnside's exit and volume 3 resumes with Grant's instillation but there is nothing of Gettysburg! Its referred to as a past event but it is missing from the narrative.

I also disagree with Catton's view of the cause of the war. He believes it was caused by incompetence from both sides and if they'd been more willing to compromise and less prone to political blunder succession and war could ha
Jun 14, 2015 Larry rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This third volume in the Army of the Potomac trilogy is a marked change from the first volume. The supreme civil war buff that wrote, and very often entertained us, in the first volume, has transitioned in each following volume to become a most competent professional historian. While the genuinely fascinating anecdotes that highlighted the first volume have diminished, this final volume is constantly and consistently still very interesting, blending more smoothly the "stories" with the facts and ...more
Jun 25, 2014 Iain rated it it was amazing
Shelves: historical-acw
Occasionally you read a Pulitzer prize winning book and say "wow, I can see why this won." "A Stillness at Appomattox" is just such a book. Catton makes the subject matter interesting and approachable. Rarely does the narrative drag, which says a great deal given the material, and when the book excels it can be hard to put down. The book entertains and educates even an experienced ACW buff. Not to be missed by anyone with even a passing interest in the campaign.
Feb 21, 2015 Steve rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The final book in “The Army of Potomac” trilogy follows the force from the aftermath to Gettysburg to the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia. Catton does a great job of not only showing the relationships between the various officers in command, but also the lives of the average soldiers. The impact of continuous battle over the final year of the war is also well illustrated. A great read for anyone interested in the American Civil War.
Apr 22, 2014 Jason rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Poetic, gripping

Poetic, gripping

I've read many books about the period, but none except perhaps Team of Rivals make the subjects come as alive as Carton does here. simply outstanding.
May 31, 2011 Jonathan marked it as to-read

'"A Stillness at Appomattox" by Bruce Catton. This third book in a splendid trilogy, "Army of the Potomac," covers the final year of the war in writing beautiful enough to be poetry. Catton, a former Plain Dealer columnist who died in 1978, grew up in a small Michigan town knowing and speaking to Civil War veterans. He also pioneered writing military history from the lowly soldiers' points of view. He depicts the ugliness, the plight of slaves and freemen,
Jun 07, 2011 Ross rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, 19th-century
For someone who does not consider himself a history buff, let alone a Civil War history buff, I found myself at times bogged down in this detailed military history. More than once, I put A Stillness aside for a few weeks and returned only reluctantly.

But I believe this was Catton's design. He intended, is seems, to put his reader in the well-worn shoes of the soldiers of the Army of the Potomac - to make you feel the heat, hunger, dust, and dread of life and death in that army. And he succeeded
Terry McCarthy
Mar 21, 2010 Terry McCarthy rated it really liked it
Brutal. Gritty. You'll finally understand just what an ugly time this was...makes you appreciate your ancestors, that's for sure.
Too clunky for the Pulitzer for me, but I understand the sentiment. No regrets with every minute of this book. I feel a better man for reading it.

But let's face it. If you really want to FEEL battle, look up two short essays:
1) Illumination Rounds, by Michael Herr
2) Okinawa: The Bloodiest Battle of All, by William Manchester you will find some really heavy shit.
Scott Murphy
Catton's books are borderline addictive, that's why I plowed through at least four of them ...
Dec 17, 2015 George rated it it was amazing
One of the finest histories of the Civil I have ever read.
Nov 28, 2015 Kristen rated it really liked it
Again, I read this for my Civil War History class and didn't hate it. The book report I have to write about it is a whole other story.
May 10, 2015 Tom rated it it was amazing
Excellent book.
One of my favorites, back from I was just starting to learn about the Civil War...the most compelling of Catton's books, especially on the episode of the crater battle during the siege of Petersburg. So utterly tragic...

I wouldn't read Catton's literature, not history, by today's standards....

But Catton is still a good place to start before moving on to books with better with superior documentation...

And A Stillness at Appomattox is his best book, of those that I've read.

J. Clayton Rogers
Nov 27, 2013 J. Clayton Rogers rated it it was amazing
I never read a Bruce Catton book that I didn't think was fantastic. Of course, the Army of the Potomac trilogy ranks at the top of his work, filled with a strange poetic horror that mesmerized me as a teen and still draws me in. His description of the Battle of Spotsylvania can give you nightmares--and it's so well written! No one, including Shelby Foote, has come close to narrative history as intense as this. Not for scholars, of course (except for beach reading).
Jan 20, 2016 Philip rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is pure history and written to appeal to the non-professional. I think it's worth looking into his other books also.
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Catton was known as a narrative historian who specialized in popular histories that emphasized the colorful characters and vignettes of history, in addition to the simple dates, facts, and analysis. His works, although well-researched, were generally not presented in a rigorous academic style, supported by footnotes. In the long line of Civil War historians, Catton is arguably the most prolific an ...more
More about Bruce Catton...

Other Books in the Series

Army of the Potomac (3 books)
  • Mr. Lincoln's Army
  • Glory Road

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