This book differs from other historical atlases by focusing largely on the overall position across the entire battle front from the Mississippi to the Atlantic Coast for most of the war, before shrinking to cover the area between Sherman in the west and Grant vs Lee in the east during 1864-5.
Major battles do get their own maps – Antietam gets ten over five pages for the battle itself and more showing the build-up, Gettysburg seventeen for the battle – and excellent supporting text, but for me its the many overview maps that give this book its value. We get to see the overall course of the war in a single glance, so the Confederate successes in Virginia are always balanced by Union successes in the west.
The text is sometimes rather breathless, an approach that gives some sense of the urgency of events (even if that wasn't always shared by some of the Union commanders). There is also some good material on the political background, the impact of military matters on elections in the North and the issue of slavery. The text also shares the same overview approach as the maps, with brief mentions of events elsewhere dropped into the account of activities in Virginia to remind the reader that there were always other fronts.
The final map is a rather nice touch, showing the reunited United States as it was at the end of the Civil War.
Author: M. David Detweiler
Publisher: Stackpole Books