Saturday, February 5, 2011

Quick Look-- Good Books About Key Confederate Generals

Freeman, Douglas Southall, Lee’s Lieutenants, A Study in Command, Volume Two, Cedar Mountain to Chancellorsville, New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons: 1943

 A study of the leading figures of the Army of Northern Virginia who served under Robert E. Lee and of the battles these men fought. The book focuses on how these men were forced to learn the art of command under fire and how some were better learners than others were. With an analysis of Confederate leaders like Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard, Joseph E. Johnston, "Jeb" Stuart, and Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson as well as such lesser known generals as Jubal Early, A. P. Hill, and Wade Hampton. The book is straightforward in the evaluation of Lee's subordinates, and does not shy away from detailing their mistakes and weaknesses. At the same time, the book is fair and courteous in the treatment of these subjects.

Alexander, Bevin. Robert E. Lee’s Civil War, Holbrook MA:  Adams Media Corp., 1998

This book is a strategic analysis of Lee and his subordinate generals. It deals with the battle history of certain campaigns of the Civil War, while often analyzing Lee’s failures of leadership. The main strength of the book is the quality of Alexander's analysis. Full of historical “what-ifs” the book discusses both actual history as well as a complete analysis of what could have been.

Lt. Gen. James Longstreet From Manassas to Appomattox: Memoirs of the Civil War in America 1st Da Capo Press ed. New York : Da Capo Press, 1992

A solid primary resource Longstreet describes his service in all of the major Virginia campaigns as well as at Chickamauga, Chattanooga, and Knoxville in the west.  This book pulls no punches, which is undoubtedly why many former CSA officers were offended by it. The author points out tactical flaws and decisions made by politicians. Longstreet's observations are made at the corps commanders level with little focus below the division level—focusing on the "big blue arrow" concept. Longstreet documents his disagreements with many strategies, such as at Gettysburg, and gives his view of what could have been—not so much in his defense but in his honest opinion of what should have happened..

Scott, Nancy and Anderson, Dwight.  The Generals: Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee, New York : Knopf, 1987

A dual biography of the two generals that provides in-depth coverage of their Civil War years, as well as information on their childhood, education, military careers, and personal lives.  Organized on a timeline, the book parallels the two lives at a particular date and recreates the events that were occurring to each at that time. Many primary sources in the form of personal letters from both Grant and Lee are used to tell the story of their lives. The book illustrates how vastly different these two men were only to be thrust together at such a difficult time in history.