General Lee's Army: From Victory to Collapse

Front Cover
Simon and Schuster, Mar 24, 2009 - History - 624 pages
19 Reviews
"You would be surprised to see what men we have in the ranks," Virginia cavalryman Thomas Rowland informed his mother in May 1861, just after joining the Army of Northern Virginia. His army -- General Robert E. Lee's army -- was a surprise to almost everyone: With daring early victories and an invasion into the North, they nearly managed to convince the North to give up the fight. Even in 1865, facing certain defeat after the loss of 30,000 men, a Louisiana private fighting in Lee's army still had hope. "I must not despair," he scribbled in his diary. "Lee will bring order out of chaos, and with the help of our Heavenly Father, all will be well."

Astonishingly, after 150 years of scholarship, there are still some major surprises about the Army of Northern Virginia. In General Lee's Army, renowned historian Joseph T. Glatthaar draws on an impressive range of sources assembled over two decades -- from letters and diaries, to official war records, to a new, definitive database of statistics -- to rewrite the history of the Civil War's most important army and, indeed, of the war itself. Glatthaar takes readers from the home front to the heart of the most famous battles of the war: Manassas, the Peninsula campaign, Antietam, Gettysburg, all the way to the final surrender at Appomattox. General Lee's Army penetrates headquarters tents and winter shanties, eliciting the officers' plans, wishes, and prayers; it portrays a world of life, death, healing, and hardship; it investigates the South's commitment to the war and its gradual erosion; and it depicts and analyzes Lee's men in triumph and defeat.

The history of Lee's army is a powerful lens on the entire war. The fate of Lee's army explains why the South almost won -- and why it lost. The story of his men -- their reasons for fighting, their cohesion, mounting casualties, diseases, supply problems, and discipline problems -- tells it all.

Glatthaar's definitive account settles many historical arguments. The Rebels were fighting above all to defend slavery. More than half of Lee's men were killed, wounded, or captured -- a staggering statistic. Their leader, Robert E. Lee, though far from perfect, held an exalted place in his men's eyes despite a number of mistakes and despite a range of problems among some of his key lieutenants.

General Lee's Army is a masterpiece of scholarship and vivid storytelling, narrated as much as possible in the words of the enlisted men and their officers.
  

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Review: General Lee's Army: From Victory to Collapse

User Review  - Justin - Goodreads

Probably the most definitive book about the Army of Northern Virginia I have ever come across. The book goes into not just details on the battles and campaigns of the army, but more of the day-to-day ... Read full review

Review: General Lee's Army: From Victory to Collapse

User Review  - Goodreads

Probably the most definitive book about the Army of Northern Virginia I have ever come across. The book goes into not just details on the battles and campaigns of the army, but more of the day-to-day ... Read full review

Contents

Comedy of errors Tragedy of Triumph
1
secession and mobilizing for War
10
The Volunteers of 61
17
Why They enlisted
29
Becoming soldiers
42
To slaughter one another like Brutes
53
a Great Canvass City
66
Keeping the army Together
78
Camp and recreation
220
religion and morality
228
Chancellorsville
242
arms and ammunition
258
home Front
289
Blacks and the army
304
lee and the high Command
334
preparing for the spring Campaign of 1864
355

Clashes within the high Command
89
playing Troops like Fireflies
104
lee in Command
123
The seven Days Campaign
135
Taking War to the enemy
150
a Failure of Discipline
174
lees officer Corps and army Culture
186
The soldiers of 62
200
supplying the army
208
The Trenches
378
manpower
397
The Grind of War
421
spiral of Defeat
442
The Final Days
457
The Sample
473
Bibliography
543
Acknowledgments
582
Copyright

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About the author (2009)

Joseph T. Glatthaar is the Stephenson Distinguished Professor of History and chair of the Curriculum in Peace, War, and Defense at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Bibliographic information