by Thomas J Ryan & Richard R Schaus
WINNER OF THE EDWIN C. BEARSS SCHOLARLY RESEARCH AWARD
Countless books have examined the battle of Gettysburg, but the retreat of the armies to the Potomac River and beyond has not been as thoroughly covered. “Lee is Trapped, and Must be Taken”: Eleven Fateful Days after Gettysburg: July 4 to July 14, 1863, by Thomas J. Ryan and Richard R. Schaus goes a long way toward rectifying this oversight.
This comprehensive study focuses on the immediate aftermath of the battle and addresses how Maj. Gen. George G. Meade organized and motivated his Army of the Potomac in response to President Abraham Lincoln’s mandate to bring about the “literal or substantial destruction” of Gen. Robert E. Lee’s retreating Army of Northern Virginia. As far as the president was concerned, if Meade aggressively pursued and confronted Lee before he could escape across the flooded Potomac River, “the rebellion would be over.”
The long and bloody three-day battle exhausted both armies. Their respective commanders faced difficult tasks, including the rallying of their troops for more marching and fighting. Lee had to keep his army organized and motivated enough to conduct an orderly withdrawal away from the field. Meade faced the same organizational and motivational challenges, while assessing the condition of his victorious but heavily damaged army, to determine if it had sufficient strength to pursue and crush a still-dangerous enemy. Central to the respective commanders’ decisions was the information they received from their intelligence-gathering resources about the movements, intentions, and capability of the enemy. The eleven-day period after Gettysburg was a battle of wits to determine which commander better understood the information he received, and directed the movements of his army accordingly. Prepare for some surprising revelations.
Woven into this account is the fate of thousands of Union prisoners who envisioned rescue to avoid incarceration in wretched Confederate prisons, and a characterization of how the Union and Confederate media portrayed the ongoing conflict for consumption on the home front.
The authors utilized a host of primary sources to craft their study, including letters, memoirs, diaries, official reports, newspapers, and telegrams, and have threaded these intelligence gems in an exciting and fast-paced narrative that includes a significant amount of new information. “Lee is Trapped, and Must be Taken” is a sequel to Thomas Ryan’s Spies, Scouts, and Secrets in the Gettysburg Campaign, the recipient of the Bachelder-Coddington Literary Award and Gettysburg Civil War Round Table Distinguished Book Award.
- 384 pages
- S/L #33874