Cold Mountain Book Report

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The Devastation of the South at the Conclusion of the Civil War The American Civil War ended in 1865 at Appomattox Court, where General Robert E. Lee surrendered to General Ulysses S. Grant at the expense of thousands of human lives and insurmountable destruction. Though the Union sought to preserve the nation throughout the war, its animosity toward Southern culture and sentiment fuelled obscenities on all accounts. Between November 15th and December 21st of the year 1864, General William Sherman’s “March to the Sea” led 60,000 Union soldiers from Atlanta to Savannah. These soldiers pillaged countless villages and burned personal property in order to wound Confederate spirit and morale. Similarly, General Sheridan’s disdain for the South drove him to ruthlessly pursue Lee and arrest any Confederate sympathizers along the way. While these Union generals expressed their discontent blatantly and with purpose, General Ulysses S. Grant assumed the position of General-in-Chief of the Union Army, directing Sherman and Sheridan alike between 1864 and 1865. His siege of Petersburg and Richmond damaged the Confederate strongholds both physically and figuratively. Though Sherman, Sheridan and Grant virtually destroyed the South, they didn’t do so without reason. By damaging Confederate property, these generals were able to effectively triumph over Southern pride and strength. The Confederates were not the only ones to suffer loss, and the Union was able to overcome its weaknesses early on. Charles Frazier discusses the theme of overcoming loss throughout Cold Mountain. “...for you can grieve your heart out and in the end you are still where you were. All your grief hasn't changed a thing. What you have lost will not be returned to you. It will always be lost. You're only left with your scars to mark the void. All you can choose to do is go on or not.” (Frazier, 334)

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