General Lee's Army: From Victory to Collapse
"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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I wanted to like this book!User Review - James Durney - Borders
I very much want to like this book and keep trying to find good things to say about it. The author’s book “Forged in Battle”, in my estimation, is one of the most important Civil War books of our time ... Read full review
Comedy of errors Tragedy of Triumph
secession and mobilizing for War
The Volunteers of 61
Why They enlisted
To slaughter one another like Brutes
a Great Canvass City
Keeping the army Together
Camp and recreation
religion and morality
arms and ammunition
Blacks and the army
lee and the high Command
preparing for the spring Campaign of 1864
Clashes within the high Command
playing Troops like Fireflies
lee in Command
The seven Days Campaign
Taking War to the enemy
a Failure of Discipline
lees officer Corps and army Culture
The soldiers of 62
supplying the army
The Grind of War
spiral of Defeat
The Final Days
Other editions - View all
A. P. Hill Alabama Alexander Army of Northern artillery attack battle battlefield Beauregard Bolling Hall Brig Brigade brother Bryan Grimes camp campaign Carolinian casualties cavalry combat command comrades Confederacy Confederate conscripts Corps CWTIC D. H. Hill Daniel Harvey Hill deserters diary division duty early enemy enlisted Ewell Family Papers Father Federals fight fire fought Fredericksburg FSNBP GDAH Georgia Gettysburg Gilder-Lehrman Collection Gorgas Harpers Ferry Hill Jackson James John Johnston July June Lafayette McLaws Lee to Davis Lee’s army Letters Longstreet Louisiana Magruder Manassas McLaws military Mother NCDAH North Carolina Northern Virginia officers Pendleton percent Potomac Rebel Records regiment Richmond Robert Robert Stafford Sister soldiers South Southern Taylor Thomas troops U.S. Census Union Union army USAMHI wife William wounded wrote Yankees