Review of Gwynne, S.C., Hymns of the Republic: The Story of the Final Year of the American Civil War
In Hymns of the Republic: The Story of the Final Year of the American Civil War, S.C. Gwynne presents a readable narrative that carries readers from Ulysses S. Grant’s arrival in the Eastern Theater to the surrender of Robert E. Lee at Appomattox Court House. For the most part, Gwynne sets his story in the east, though side excursions to Fort Pillow and William Tecumseh Sherman’s March to the Sea break up the heavy focus on the exchange of blows between Grant and Lee at the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Cold Harbor, and Petersburg. The archival research is slim, as evidenced by a bibliography that lists mainly secondary works and published accounts. Gordon Rhea’s work heavily informs the military narrative of the Overland Campaign, while the classic texts of Bruce Catton and Douglas Southhall Freeman clearly shaped Gwynne’s portrayals of Grant and Lee, respectively.