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Book Review
A Place Called Appomattox
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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