A FIRE IN THE WILDERNESS: John Reeves in conversation with Steve Courtney
- This event has passed.
May 5 • 7:00 pm - 8:00 pmFree
A Fire in the Wilderness is the riveting account of the first bloody showdown between Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee—a battle that sealed the fate of the Confederacy and changed the course of American history.
In the spring of 1864, President Lincoln feared that he might not be able to save the Union. The Army of the Potomac had performed poorly over the previous two years, and many Northerners were understandably critical of the war effort. Lincoln assumed he’d lose the November election, and he firmly believed a Democratic successor would seek peace immediately, spelling an end to the Union. A Fire in the Wilderness tells the story of that perilous time when the future of the United States depended on the Union Army’s success in a desolate forest roughly sixty-five miles from the nation’s capital.
At the outset of the Battle of the Wilderness, General Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia remained capable of defeating the Army of the Potomac. But two days of relentless fighting in dense Virginia woods, Robert E. Lee was never again able to launch offensive operations against Grant’s army. Lee, who faced tremendous difficulties replacing fallen soldiers, lost 11,125 men—or 17% of his entire force. On the opposing side, the Union suffered 17,666 casualties.
The alarming casualties do not begin to convey the horror of this battle, one of the most gruesome in American history. When the fighting finally subsided during the late evening of the second day, the usually stoical Grant threw himself down on his cot and cried.
This virtual program is free to attend, though when you register, we hope you’ll consider contributing what you’d call a fair ticket price. We thank you for your attendance whether you’re able to donate or not. REGISTER HERE.
Signed copies of A Fire in the Wilderness will be available for purchase through the Mark Twain Store; proceeds benefit The Mark Twain House & Museum. Books will be shipped after the event. We regret that we are NOT able to ship books outside the United States as it is cost-prohibitive to do so.