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General Joshua Chamberlain was a professor of literature at Bowdoin University in Maine in 1861 when the Civil War broke out. In 1862 he requested leave to travel to Europe for study, and when he was granted his leave, he promptly went to Augusta to volunteer with the Maine contingent of the Union army. He would serve for 3 1/2 years with 5th Corps, Army of the Potomac and saw action at Gettysburg, where he won the Medal of Honor, and in several battles at the end of the war.This book is an account of the last 10 days of the civil war in March to April 1865. Chamberlain writes his account, not in the dispassionate perspective of the historian, but as a fellow soldier who laments the sacrifices endured for the Union and the men lost in battle. It is a very moving account.Chamberlain spends most of the book discussing the three key battles of the closing days of the Civil War, the battle of White Oaks Road, the subsequent battle of the Five Forks, and finally the encounter at Appotomox Courthouse where General Lee surrendered his Army of Northern Virginia. In his narrative of the battle of White Oak Road, Chamberlain spends a considerable amount of time defending his commander and friend General Warren, who was relieved of his command of 5th Corps by General Phil Sheridan for failing to be aggressive in the battle. Warren was actually tried on these charges in a famous trial in 1879-1880 which included several key Union Army commanders including Sheridan, Sherman and Grant as well as Chamberlain. Warren was acquitted of the charges as a result of the trial. As this book was written in 1914, long after the war and the trial, Chamberlain writes these words in a note of nostalgia and regret. How many soldiers look back on their service with mixed emotions? On the one hand, they long for the comeraderie of the unit in which they served, and on the other hand they regret the hardships and sacrifices that cost so many lives and limbs. Chamberlain makes this very apparent in his descriptions of the final battles of the War.The last few chapters of the book focus on the disbanding of the Union Army in the summer of 1865. Here Chamberlain is very nostalgic, going into each unit that he commanded and served with, showing their sacrifices and courage in battle. Chamberlain is not critical of anyone in this book, not the Union commanders or their units and not even the Confederates. He sees his service in the War as a heroic sacrifice, even an event of biblical proportions. Looking back on it 50 years later it must surely have seemed so. His memories of the battles, the units and the soldiers that he served with are something that you will not get from a typical Civil War history.Overall I think this book is essential reading for the military professional, the civil war historian and anyone with an interest in military or civil war history.

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