A Glorious Army: Robert E. Lee's Triumph, 1862-1863

By Jeffry D. Wert

From the time Robert E. Lee took command of the military of Northern Virginia on June 1, 1862, till the conflict of Gettysburg 13 months later, the accomplice military compiled a list of army fulfillment virtually unprecedented in our nation’s historical past. the way it happened—the relative contributions of Lee, his best command, opposing Union generals, and naturally the insurgent military itself—is the topic of Civil conflict historian Jeffry D. Wert’s attention-grabbing and riveting new background.

In the 12 months following Lee’s appointment, his military received 4 significant battles or campaigns and fought Union forces to a draw on the bloody conflict of Antietam. Washington itself was once threatened, as a succession of Union commanders didn't cease Lee’s offensive. till Gettysburg, it regarded as though Lee may well strength the Union to barter a peace instead of possibility surrendering the capital or maybe wasting the warfare. Lee’s victories fired southern ambition and emboldened accomplice infantrymen far and wide.

Wert exhibits how a similar audacity and aggression that fueled those victories proved disastrous at Gettysburg. yet, as Wert explains, Lee had little selection: outnumbered by way of an opponent with improved assets, he needed to take the struggle to the enemy with a view to win. For a 12 months his greater generalship prevailed opposed to his competitors, yet ultimately what Lee’s relied on lieutenant basic James Longstreet known as “headlong combativeness” triggered Lee to miscalculate. whilst an both combative Union general—Ulysses S. Grant—took command of northern forces in 1864, Lee used to be defeated. A wonderful military draws at the most up-to-date scholarship, together with letters and diaries, to supply a super research of Lee’s triumphs. It bargains clean exams of Lee; his most sensible commanders Longstreet, Jackson, and Stuart; and a wise conflict procedure that also deals classes to army commanders this day. A wonderful military is a dramatic account of significant battles from Seven Days to Gettysburg that's as gripping because it is convincing, a must-read for somebody attracted to the Civil War.

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Ninety eight Chancellorsville stands, besides the fact that, as a super triumph of accomplice palms and Lee’s best tactical victory. As he had through the Seven Days and at moment Manassas, Lee had imposed his will on an opponent. undoubtedly Hooker’s generalship—withdrawing into the barren region on might 1, assuming a shielding stand, and ordering the abandonment of Hazel Grove on might 3—contributed considerably to the battle’s consequence. The Union commander used to be additionally ill-served through subordinates, fairly Oliver Otis Howard and John Sedgwick. At serious issues fortune favourite the Rebels, yet Dorsey Pender placed it good in a letter to his spouse: “Hooker proposal he had us yet Lee is just too a lot for him. ”99 even though Lee had shaped the daring offensive, he used to be now not by myself in forging the victory. From the lowliest deepest within the ranks to generals corresponding to Stonewall Jackson, Jeb Stuart, and Powell Hill, aggressiveness and élan individual Lee’s military, probably greater than the other attributes. Chancellorsville starkly confirmed the several mindsets of the opposing armies. The rank and dossier of the military of the Potomac have been useful foes, yet because the army’s rebirth after First Bull Run that they had been cursed by way of a deeply ingrained warning between their management. while Lee and his lieutenants dared to behave opposed to daunting odds, Hooker and his subordinates assumed the shielding at the back of fieldworks on a haunting panorama that finally favorite the daring. A Union employees officer grasped the variation: “I am not anything of a common, yet why we didn't whip them i don't see. … We by no means gave our males an opportunity. ”100 the military of Northern Virginia and the Confederacy as a complete hailed Chancellorsville as a amazing, even gorgeous victory. Stephen Dodson Ramseur exclaimed approximately “this wonderful military. ” Writing on could eight, Walter Taylor asserted: “The previous week has been a such a lot eventful one. The operations of this military lower than Genl Lee in the course of that point will examine favorably with the main incredible ever recorded. while I ponder our numerical weak point, our restricted assets and the good energy & equipments of the enemy, i'm astonished on the outcome. ”101 Artillerist Ham Chamberlayne proclaimed, “I regard it as via a long way our best victory: there has been no straggling; our military was once in scuffling with trim on the finish of the engagement, no disorganization, no panic any the place. ” A Virginia officer attested, “Our males fought wonderfully… and every soldier appeared to believe that he had a major half to behave within the grand and bloody drama. ” Years later Porter Alexander defined the victory as “the very good tale of ways success favorite pluck and ability, & how we extricated ourselves through the boldest & such a lot bold technique of the total warfare; mixed with probably the most appealing struggling with which it witnessed. ”102 Southern newspapers trumpeted the victory and heralded Lee and the military. Editorials within the Richmond day-by-day Dispatch and Enquirer typified the response of the clicking. The day-by-day Dispatch ranked the scuffling with on could 2 and three “amongst the main fabulous within the annals of the Southern Confederacy, already illuminated with triumphs which, for quantity and significance, are usually not exceeded in heritage.

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