For the first several volumes in The Civil War Battle Series the great irony in James Reasoner's books was that the particular battle that served as the title was usually covered in a relatively few pages at the end of the book. More than the strategy and tactics of a particular battle, however, the narrative was more caught up with the interpersonal problems of the Bannon family of Culpeper County, Virginia, so that many of us thought the series should be called The Civil War Soap Opera Series. I knew how the war was going to turn out, my biggest concerns was Duncan Ebersole getting his comeuppance and with how many of the Brannons would still be alive at the end of the tenth and final book. The latter concern actually last longer because it was not until the end of the ninth volume, "Savannah," that Will Brannon became the first of the five Bannon brothers to get killed in the war.
One of the reasons that the Bannons lasted so long was that they were essential to the far flung nature of Reasoner's narrative. Originally this was just Will and Mac in the Eastern Theater of the war, with the Stonewall Brigade and the Confederate cavalry at Manassas, Antietam, Chacnelllorsville and such while Cory represented the Western Theater from Shiloh to Vicksburg. Even once Henry and Titus got involved in the war, leaving Coredlia home on the farm with ma, they were busy covering other aspects of the war. Now, all the chickens come home to roost in the final book. Of course, Appomattox is really not a Civil War battle per se, not compared to Gettysburg and Chicamauga, but the site of Lee's surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia to Grant. This means that Reasoner has to cover a lot once he begins "Appomattox" with Mac and Roman burying Will.
Mac is still with Fitzhugh Lee's Confederate cavalry while Titus is not a member of Mosby's Rangers engaged in guerrilla warfare in the Shenandoah Valley. By the end of the book Mac is involved with the defense of Petersburg and Titus is actually involved with a desperate plot to save the Confederacy that allow Reasoner to make him a part of American history. Meanwhile Cory is now part of the retreating Rebel army facing Sherman in the Carolinas and Henry is riding with Nathan Bedford Forrest in Alabama. Back at the farm Cordelia is still being courted by a Yankee lieutenant while Nathan Hatcher is serving with the Union army in the Dakota Territory and Cory's wife Lucille is heading to Texas to meet up with Pie and Rachel while waiting for the war to end so Cory can join her. Throw into the mix what happens to Roman and this novel moves at a faster pace than any of the rest. It often seems like Reasoner is bouncing around from character to character, making sure he is touching all his narrative bases. By the end of this book characters in different parts of the war are showing up in the same chapter, which was not what was happening before.
In winding down the war the soap opera elements are about as reduced as the health and fitness of the Confederate army. There was really only one significant element left and it unexpected just sort of ends, so Reasoner is able to keep the focus on the reactions of the Brannons to the drawing end of the war. Capturing the reactions of the surviving Brannon brothers to what is happening is the strongest part of this book, even if he is forced to rush through the final months of the drawn out war. Still, it is hard not to be struck by how odd at the quick pace of this final book at the end of a ten volume series. If you go by the number of reviews written about each volume in The Civil War Battle Series it would seem there have been some massive desertions along the way, but overall the series holds up well and even if a couple of the Bannons become officers (a helpful way of having them in the right place with the right people at the right time) you do get a sense of what it was like for the ordinary soldiers of the Civil War.