Why the Confederacy Lost

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Gabor S. Boritt
Oxford University Press, USA, Oct 7, 1993 - History - 209 pages
2 Reviews
After the Civil War, someone asked General Pickett why the Battle of Gettysburg had been lost: Was it Lee's error in taking the offensive, the tardiness of Ewell and Early, or Longstreet's hesitation in attacking? Pickett scratched his head and replied, "I've always thought the Yankees had something to do with it." This simple fact, writes James McPherson, has escaped a generation of historians who have looked to faulty morale, population, economics, and dissent as the causes of Confederate failure. These were all factors, he writes, but the Civil War was still a war--won by the Union army through key victories at key moments.With this brilliant review of how historians have explained the Southern defeat, McPherson opens a fascinating account by several leading historians of how the Union broke the Confederate rebellion. In every chapter, the military struggle takes center stage, as the authors reveal how battlefield decisions shaped the very forces that many scholars (putting the cart before the horse) claim determined the outcome of the war. Archer Jones examines the strategy of the two sides, showing how each had to match its military planning to political necessity. Lee raided north of the Potomac with one eye on European recognition and the other on Northern public opinion--but his inevitable retreats looked like failure to the Southern public. The North, however, developed a strategy of deep raids that was extremely effective because it served a valuable political as well as military purpose, shattering Southern morale by tearing up the interior. Gary Gallagher takes a hard look at the role of generals, narrowing his focus to the crucial triumvirate of Lee, Grant, and Sherman, who towered above the others. Lee's aggressiveness may have been costly, but he well knew the political impact of his spectacular victories; Grant and Sherman, meanwhile, were the first Union generals to fully harness Northern resources and carry out coordinated campaigns. Reid Mitchell shows how the Union's advantage in numbers was enhanced by a dedication and perseverance of federal troops that was not matched by the Confederates after their home front began to collapse. And Joseph Glatthaar examines black troops, whose role is entering the realm of national myth.In 1960, there appeared a collection of essays by major historians, entitled Why the North Won the Civil War, edited by David Donald; it is now in its twenty-sixth printing, having sold well over 100,000 copies. Why the Confederacy Lost provides a parallel volume, written by today's leading authorities. Provocatively argued and engagingly written, this work reminds us that the hard-won triumph of the North was far from inevitable.
 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - la2bkk - LibraryThing

Thought provoking collection of essays setting forth the various writers' opinion as to the myriad causes of why the confederacy lost, or why the union won, the civil war. The essays are written in a manner that will appeal both to a casual reader and more serious civil war fan. Read full review

WHY THE CONFEDERACY LOST

User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

In this slender but sensibly argued group of essays edited by Boritt (Civil War Studies/Gettysburg College), five outstanding Civil War scholars offer their views of what led to Robert E. Lee's ... Read full review

Contents

American Victory American Defeat
15
Military Means Political Ends Strategy
43
Upon their Success Hang Momentous Interests Generals
79
The Perseverance of the Soldiers
109
Black Glory The AfricanAmerican Role in Union Victory
133
Notes
163
A Bibliography
179
Contributors
193
Index
197
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Page 12 - And then there will be some black men who can remember that, with silent tongue, and clenched teeth, and steady eye, and well-poised bayonet, they have helped mankind on to this great consummation...

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About the author (1993)


Gabor Boritt is Robert C. Fluhrer Professor of Civil War Studies and Director of the Civil War Institute at Gettysburg College. His most recent books are The Confederate Image and Lincoln, the War President.

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