I just finished this last night. The war is winding to a close, as the South has failed to stop Sherman in South and North Carolina. The battle of Bentonville has just been lost, so the ring around Lee is virtually closed.
Sheridan has finished crushing Early in the Valley, so North Virginia is also a dead issue. The date is late March, 1865, so Lee’s army will be taken out in about two weeks, followed by the surrender of the others.
There was quite a bit of discussion of the various peace feelers during this period, and how they foundered on Davis’ insistence on two nations versus Lincoln’s of reunion. Abe’s position is easy to understand, since he was winning, but it still is astonishing that so few in the responsible positions in the South were willing to try to save a few lives by ending things before the final campaigns, which were hardly bloodless. Nobody with sense could fail to see the result – this is why the South had so much trouble with deserters. Once you see that the nation is ‘gone up’, its time to see about getting your life back in order, even more so if you are from the parts of the country that Sherman and the other western armies are able to move about at will in.