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Screen Shot 2014-10-23 at 8.27.54 PMFrom the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Battle Cry of Freedom, a powerful new reckoning with Jefferson Davis as military commander of the Confederacy

History has not been kind to Jefferson Davis. His cause went down in disastrous defeat and left the South impoverished for generations. If that cause had succeeded, it would have torn the United States in two and preserved the institution of slavery. Many Americans in Davis’s own time and in later generations considered him an incompetent leader, if not a traitor. Not so, argues James M. McPherson. In Embattled Rebel, McPherson shows us that Davis might have been on the wrong side of history, but it is too easy to diminish him because of his cause’s failure. In order to understand the Civil War and its outcome, it is essential to give Davis his due as a military leader and as the president of an aspiring Confederate nation.

Davis did not make it easy on himself. His subordinates and enemies alike considered him difficult, egotistical, and cold. He was gravely ill throughout much of the war, often working from home and even from his sickbed. Nonetheless, McPherson argues, Davis shaped and articulated the principal policy of the Confederacy with clarity and force: the quest for independent nationhood. Although he had not been a fire-breathing secessionist, once he committed himself to a Confederate nation he never deviated from this goal. In a sense, Davis was the last Confederate left standing in 1865.

As president of the Confederacy, Davis devoted most of his waking hours to military strategy and operations, along with Commander Robert E. Lee, and delegated the economic and diplomatic functions of strategy to his subordinates. Davis was present on several battlefields with Lee and even took part in some tactical planning; indeed, their close relationship stands as one of the great military-civilian partnerships in history.

Most critical appraisals of Davis emphasize his choices in and management of generals rather than his strategies, but no other chief executive in American history exercised such tenacious hands-on influence in the shaping of military strategy. And while he was imprisoned for two years after the Confederacy’s surrender awaiting a trial for treason that never came, and lived for another twenty-four years, he never once recanted the cause for which he had fought and lost. McPherson gives us Jefferson Davis as the commander in chief he really was, showing persuasively that while Davis did not win the war for the South, he was scarcely responsible for losing it.

Rebel Yell: The Violence, Passion, and Redemption of Stonewall Jackson, S.C. Gwynne.

From the publisher

Screen Shot 2014-10-23 at 8.32.54 PMFrom the author of the prizewinning New York Times bestseller Empire of the Summer Moon comes a thrilling account of how Civil War general Thomas “Stonewall” Jacksonbecame a great and tragic American hero.

Stonewall Jackson has long been a figure of legend and romance. As much as any person in the Confederate pantheon, even Robert E. Lee, he embodies the romantic Southern notion of the virtuous lost cause. Jackson is also considered, without argument, one of our country’s greatest military figures. His brilliance at the art of war tied Abraham Lincoln and the Union high command in knots and threatened the ultimate success of the Union armies. Jackson’s strategic innovations shattered the conventional wisdom of how war was waged; he was so far ahead of his time that his techniques would be studied generations into the future.

In April 1862 Jackson was merely another Confederate general in an army fighting what seemed to be a losing cause. By June he had engineered perhaps the greatest military campaign in American history and was one of the most famous men in the Western world. He had, moreover, given the Confederate cause what it had recently lacked—hope—and struck fear into the hearts of the Union.

Rebel Yell is written with the swiftly vivid narrative that is Gwynne’s hallmark and is rich with battle lore, biographical detail, and intense conflict between historical figures. Gwynne delves deep into Jackson’s private life, including the loss of his young beloved first wife and his regimented personal habits. It traces Jackson’s brilliant twenty-four-month career in the Civil War, the period that encompasses his rise from obscurity to fame and legend; his stunning effect on the course of the war itself; and his tragic death, which caused both North and South to grieve the loss of a remarkable American hero.

Such Troops as These: The Genius and Leadership of Confederate General Stonewall Jackson – by Bevin Alexander

From the publisher

Screen Shot 2014-10-23 at 8.37.07 PMAcclaimed military historian Bevin Alexander offers a fresh and cogent analysis of Stonewall Jackson’s military genius and reveals how the Civil War might have ended differently if Jackson’s strategies had been adopted.

The Civil War of 1861–65 pitted the industrial North against the agricultural South, and remains the most catastrophic conflict in terms of loss of life in American history. With triple the population and eleven times the industry, the Union had a decided advantage over the Confederacy in terms of direct conflict and conventional warfare. One general had the vision of an alternative approach that could win the War for the South—his name was Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson.

It was Jackson’s strategy to always strike at the Union’s vulnerabilities, not to challenge its power directly. He won a campaign against the North with a force only a quarter of the size of the Union army, and he was the first commander to recognize the overwhelming defensive power of the new rifles and cannons. With most of its military forces on the offensive in the South, the North was left virtually undefended on its own turf. Jackson believed invading the eastern states along the great industrial corridor from Baltimore to Maine could divide and cripple the Union, forcing surrender. But he failed to convince Confederate president Jefferson Davis or General Robert E. Lee of the viability of his plan.

In Such Troops as These, Bevin Alexander presents a compelling case for Stonewall Jackson as a supreme military strategist and the greatest general in American history. Fiercely dedicated to the cause of Southern independence, Jackson would not live to see the end of the War. But his military legacy lives on and finds fitting tribute in this book.

Clouds of Glory: The Life and Legend of Robert E. Lee, by Michael Korda

From the publisher

Screen Shot 2014-10-23 at 8.42.03 PMNew York Times bestselling author Michael Korda’s fresh, contemporary single volume historical biography of General Robert E. Lee—perhaps the most famous and least understood legend in American history and one of our most admired heroes.

Michael Korda, author of Ulysses S. Grant and the bestsellers Ike and Hero, paints a vivid and admiring portrait of Lee as a brilliant general, a devoted family man, and principled gentleman who disliked slavery and disagreed with secession, yet who refused command of the Union Army in 1861 because he could not “draw his sword” against his beloved Virginia.

Well-rounded and realistic, Clouds of Glory analyzes Lee’s command during the Civil War and explores his responsibility for the fatal stalemate at Antietam, his defeat at Gettysburg (as well the many troubling controversies still surrounding it) and ultimately, his failed strategy for winning the war. As Korda shows, Lee’s dignity, courage, leadership, and modesty made him a hero on both sides of the Mason-Dixon Line and a revered American icon who is recognized today as the nation’s preeminent military leader.

Clouds of Glory features dozens of stunning illustrations, some never before seen, including twelve pages of color, twenty-four pages of black-and-white, and nearly fifty in-text battle maps.

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The Civil War Gazette (CWG) is published by Kraig McNutt, Director of The Center for the Study of the American Civil War. The CWG was first launched on to the World-wide Web in 1995.

The Civil War Gazette allows the first-hand participants - both common soldier and civilian - to tell the story of their experience of the Civil War from their perspective; through letters, diaries, newspapers articles, and other authentic first-hand accounts.

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