Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

In Lee and Grant at Appomattox, MacKinlay Kantor discusses the feelings of a defeated army and a victorious army, the different backgrounds and military careers of their opposing supreme commanders, and the pride of General Robert E. Lee and the generosity and compassion of General Ulysses S. Grant. In every chapter, two or three illustrations by Donald McKay reflect Kantor’s key themes.

The first and last chapters of the book clearly portray the bitterness between the North and the South that would last for generations. One chapter describes the two opposing armies after the Battle of Petersburg, Virginia, in April, 1865, and what took place as Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia retreated from the pursuing Union army. The other chapter describes the moods and actions of the soldiers of the opposing armies after Lee and Grant left the McLean house, where the Confederacy had just surrendered.

In chapter 2, Kantor traces the careers of the commanders. He discusses their family backgrounds, contrasts their military careers, and explains their status in life on the eve of the Civil War. Chapters 3 and 4 reflect the thoughts of the generals over the question of surrender. Grant’s reasons for writing a note to Lee on April 7, 1865, suggesting that Lee accept surrender terms are analyzed, as are Lee’s arguments against such a notion.

In chapters 5 and 6, Kantor focuses on the thoughts of two individuals in very different...

(The entire section is 502 words.)