Return to Bull Run: The Campaign and Battle of Second Manassas

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Simon & Schuster, 1993 - History - 607 pages
In one of the best Civil War campaign histories ever written, John Hennessy presents the most comprehensive account of Second Manassas, August 29-30, 1862. Return to Bull Run tells the compelling story of the men - from privates to generals - who responded to an awesome challenge. Making superb use of primary sources, including diaries, letters, and official communications, Hennessy reveals the personalities of the leaders on both sides and details the background of every event.
The summer of 1862 marked a dramatic change in fortunes for both sides in the Civil War. Robert E. Lee had rebuffed George McClellan's assault on Richmond, leaving a demoralized and exhausted Army of the Potomac stalled twenty miles outside the city. For Lincoln, the stalemate in Virginia was a stark milestone: hopes for an easy Northern victory shattered as losses mounted throughout the state; confidence among leaders and soldiers alike was falling precipitously. Angered by McClellan's conservatism and eager to extend the dimensions of the war and bring its hard edge to the Southern populace, Lincoln established a new army in northern Virginia, entrusting command to John Pope, fresh from victories in the West. The repercussions of Pope's appointment would extend far beyond the brutal two-day conflict at Manassas.
From the move of McClellan's troops northward, giving Lee a military opportunity, to Pope's arrogant boast that he would "bag" Stonewall Jackson, to the dangerous disaffection of Pope's subordinates, Hennessy traces the misjudgments, scapegoating, and ill-conceived tactics that led to Union disaster.
Lee's brilliance as a strategist, his ability to see beyond the "rules" of war and accurately appraise the enemy, and his confidence in Jackson, James Longstreet, and J. E. B. Stuart, emerge in striking contrast to Pope's bumbling efforts. Jackson's daring and obstinacy held firm in the face of relentless assaults on August 29; Longstreet's surprise counterattack the following day sent Federal troops on the road to retreat. At Bull Run, the Confederate forces displayed the true strengths of an army: organization, cohesion, and morale; by September 4, they were poised for a decisive thrust into the North.
Shedding new light on the month-long campaign often overshadowed in other histories by the confrontation at Richmond that preceded it and the Antietam campaign that followed it, Return to Bull Run is a compelling narrative of one of the most intense and telling dramas of America's bloodiest conflict.

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User Review  - charbonn - LibraryThing

In Return to Bull Run, John J. Hennessy does an excellent job of describing how the Union was whipped at Second Manassas. A “well-oiled performance of the Confederate army” under Lee, Jackson, and ... Read full review

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User Review  - DinadansFriend - LibraryThing

The Second Bull Run battle was the low point of the attempt to build a competent Union Army in the East. It pointed out the degree to which George McClellan had been useful in creating a useful army ... Read full review


Poor Old Virginia
We Shall Have a Busy Time
To the Rappahannock

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About the author (1993)

ohn Hennessy is the author of a previous collection, Bridge and Tunnel (Turning Point Books, 2007), and his poems appear in The Believer, Best American Poetry 2013, Harvard Review, The Huffington Post, LIT, Jacket, The New Republic, Poetry, Southwest Review, and The Yale Review. Hennessy went to Princeton on a Cane Scholarship and completed graduate degrees at the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Arkansas. A former Amy Clampitt Fellow, he teaches at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and serves as poetry editor for The Common.

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