When did the Civil War actually end? We all tend to think of the ending as when Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865. But was that really the end in the minds of the southerners? What about their president, Jefferson Davis? After all, Lee told him to leave the city of Richmond, VA, the capital of the Confederacy in early April because Lee knew he couldn’t come to the rescue of the city against the Union forces lead by Grant. For the first time in five springs, the Union finally broke the defenses of Richmond and were in the enemy’s capital city, which was only about 100 miles from Washington, DC.
Davis had finally fled the city with the members of his cabinet and also the gold for the treasury of the Confederacy. Still, even with Lee telling him to leave the city, Davis didn’t think the war was over. He believed that as he went farther South, the people would rally and more soldiers would volunteer to be in the army. Even after Lee surrendered a few days after the fall of Richmond, Davis continued to believe his cause was not lost.
Lincoln was not looking to go “after” Davis. He just wanted an end to the whole long bloody, costly, terrible war. In fact, even seven days after the fall of Richmond, Lincoln had not started a manhunt for the Confederacy president. And appeared to have no plans to do so. However, the assassination of Lincoln changed many things, including how the former president, Davis, would be treated. After all, for all the Union knew, Davis had been in league with Booth to carry out the plot to kill Lincoln.
Blood Times by James L. Swanson is not a book to read if you want lots of action and drama. Mostly the book focuses on the movements of the funeral procession of Lincoln’s body as it was taken back across the Eastern part of the United States heading for Springfield, IL. The interesting parts are when the book, in parallel to Lincoln’s last journey, track Davis’ movements and how he really believed, almost till the very end, it was still possible to have the Confederacy survive.
Recommended for someone wanting to know all things about the Civil War, but probably not for the passing interest kind of reader. Grades 7th and up.