A Place Called Appomattox by William Marvel The University of North Carolina Press 400 pages (includes Index, Notes, and Bibliography) Reviewed by Danny Witt While Mr. Marvel doesn't go back in time millions of years as James Michener did in his book Centennial, he does go back far enough to provide a thorough history. In 1814 Alexander Patterson and his brother established a stage line between Richmond and Lynchburg. A tavern was built in 1819 overlooking the headwaters of the Appomattox River on Clover Hill. The first attempt to form a county was by Alexander Patterson himself in 1824, when he presented a petition to the General Assembly for a new county called "Fayette." That attempt failed on a technicality. It took until 1845 to get a bill passed that took portions of Prince Edward, Buckingham, Campbell, and Charlotte counties to form a new county, with Clover Hill as the seat. The name "Appomattox," believed to have evolved from an Indian tribe called Apumetec, was chosen for the new county. The book details the following years, covering the growing pains of a small community through the introduction of several families in the area. The day-to-day events of life, death, and business deals show all hopes and dreams of the fledgling community. A major setback to continued growth occurred when the Southside Railroad was built three miles away instead of through the village. Then came the civil war and the service of the men and boys of Appomattox County who fought for the Stars and Bars. The county and its people left at home still felt the effects while the war seemed distant, but by April 1865 the war was not far away any longer. The description of the events in the county evidenced a lot of fresh research, casting a different light on some long told stories. By the time of reconstruction, Appomattox Court House had reached its high point as a community. The decline of the area, the rebuilding, and finally the conversion into a National Park bring the story up to the present time. I enjoyed this book and hope you do too. My only criticism is that while the pictures in the book are great, and the maps showing the growth of the village are good, there are no maps highlighting the important days of April 9-10. If you don't feel that this book deserves a place on your Civil War shelf, it certainly belongs on the Virginia history one.
Availability: New copies are currently available for $28 at most Civil War book dealers. New or used copies may also be purchased on-line. Currently available from Barnes & Noble for $27.96 - hardcover, September 2000.
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