Stock Image


Davis, William C.

137 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0151005648 / ISBN 13: 9780151005642
Published by Harcourt, 2001
New Condition: New Hardcover
From Columbia Books, ABAA/ILAB (Columbia, MO, U.S.A.)

AbeBooks Seller Since April 30, 1997

Quantity Available: 1

Buy New
List Price: US$ 30.00
Price: US$ 30.00 Convert Currency
Shipping: Free Within U.S.A. Destination, rates & speeds
Add to basket

30 Day Return Policy

About this Item

Davis, William C. AN HONORABLE DEFEAT: THE LAST DAYS OF THE CONFEDERATE GOVERNMENT. NY: Harcourt, Inc., c2001. First printing. 496pp, b/w photos, notes, bibliography, index, 8vo, New hardbound in d/w,. Bookseller Inventory # 45057

Ask Seller a Question

Bibliographic Details


Publisher: Harcourt

Publication Date: 2001

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition:New

Dust Jacket Condition: As New

Edition: 1st Edition

About this title


In February 1865, the end was clearly in sight for the Confederate government. Lee's defeat at Gettysburg had dashed the hopes of the Confederate army, and Grant's victory at Vicksburg had cut the South in two. An Honorable Defeat is the story of the four months that saw the surrender of the South and the assassination of Lincoln by Southern partisans. It is also the story of two men, antagonists yet political partners, who struggled during this time to achieve their own differing visions for the South: Jefferson Davis, the autocratic president of the Confederate States, who vowed never to surrender whatever the cost; and the practical and warm General John C. Breckinridge, Secretary of War, who hoped pragmatism would save the shattered remnants of the land he loved so dearly.

Pulitzer Prize nominee William C. Davis traces the astounding flight of these men, and the entire Confederate cabinet, as they flee south from Richmond by train, then by mule, then on foot. Using original research, he narrates, with dramatic style and clear historical accuracy, the futile quarrels of Davis and Breckinridge as they try to evade bands of Northern pursuers and describes their eventual--and separate--captures. The result is a rich canvas of a time of despair and defeat that is exciting and highly readable, a charged tale full of physical adventure and political battle that sweeps from the marble halls of Richmond to a dingy room in a Havana hotel.


In the final days of the Civil War, when defeat loomed for the South, Confederate Secretary of War John C. Breckenridge warned, "This has been a magnificent epic. In God's name, let it not terminate in a farce." To be sure, there were plenty of farcical moments--even pathetic ones--as the Confederate government breathed its last. President Jefferson Davis fled capture but was ultimately apprehended in disguise; he was wearing his wife's clothing. Union soldiers detected his "distinctly unfeminine cavalry boots and spurs" and arrested him. Then there was "the last official act of the Confederate government itself"--Breckinridge giving a commission in jest to a soldier who had already surrendered because the man wanted to outrank one of his fellows.

William C. Davis is the perfect author for An Honorable Defeat. He is an accomplished Civil War historian and previously has written excellent biographies of Jefferson Davis and John Breckinridge, the two figures who dominate this book. It also serves as a fitting bookend to A Government of Our Own, an earlier volume on the birth of the Confederate government. An Honorable Defeat is an absorbing story of desperation, as President Davis contemplates waging a guerrilla war against the North and continues to believe the South can prevail even when its mighty armies have been reduced to almost nothing. "A narrow divide separates heroic commitment from sheer fanaticism," writes the author, who nevertheless defends Davis against the charge of fanaticism. He shows, for example, that Davis almost certainly was not aware of any plot on the life of Abraham Lincoln--even though one obviously existed and elements of his secret service probably encouraged it. On the whole, the Confederate president comes off as a man ill-suited to the task that confronted him, which, in time, included graceful surrender. Breckinridge, by contrast, emerges as a hero who made decisions in those last hours that saved lives and fostered national reconciliation. This is a fine book on an overlooked episode, and fans of Jay Winik's masterful April 1865 will find that it deepens their understanding of how the Civil War came to a close. --John J. Miller

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

Store Description

Columbia Books opened in 1977 and began selling online in 1991 with the advent of Interloc; we've been selling on abebooks since they first began. We have an eclectic mix of 30,000 books, ephemera and artwork; something for collectors and readers alike.

Visit Seller's Storefront

Terms of Sale:

We accept credit cards, checks, money orders; you may also order directly from us if you like. We are very careful with our descriptions; however books are always returnable if not as described.
Contact details:
Annette Kolling-Buckley
Columbia Books, Inc. ABAA/ILAB
1907 Gordon Street
Columbia, MO 65201

Shipping Terms:

Shipping costs are based on books weighing 2.2 LB, or 1 KG. If your book order is heavy or oversized, we may contact you to let you know extra shipping is required.

List this Seller's Books

Payment Methods
accepted by seller

Visa Mastercard American Express

Check Money Order Cash Bank Draft Direct Debit (Personally Authorized Payment)