General Lee's army : from victory to collapse /

Historian Joseph T. Glatthaar takes a comprehensive and detailed look into the Confederacy through the eyes of the Army of Northern Virginia and General Robert E. Lee. Through the soldiers point of view we see how dedicated the Southern forces were and just how close they came to victory in the Civi...

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Main Author: Glatthaar, Joseph T., 1956-
Format: Book
Published:New York : Free Press, 2008.
Edition:1st Free Press hardcover ed.
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Online Access: Table of contents only 
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Review by Choice Review

Glatthaar (North Carolina) offers an interesting combination of analytical overviews and syntheses punctuated with supporting quotes and detailed analysis. This detail and understanding should be expected because the book is the result of a lifetime's research. At the same time, there are vignettes that add color and hard data to this chronologically organized work. Within the easily read, flowing text, there are chapters that go into more detail about supplying the army with food and basic equipment, the sources of men in 1861 as opposed to 1863, casualties, and the psychology/morale of those in the ranks. As an example, the book's account of the armament supply situation for the Army of Northern Virginia includes a discussion of bullet production and the issuance of undersized balls to alleviate fouling and speed up firing rates. The author offers numerous insights on the political nature of army command and Southern society's impact on the army. The source material is fairly well referenced for such a broad, sweeping account. The index is helpful, but it is necessary to read closely because the minutiae are often not included. Summing Up: Recommended. Most levels/libraries. L. E. Babits East Carolina University

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

You cannot say that University of North Carolina professor Glatthaar (Partners in Command) did not do his homework in this massive examination of the Civil War-era lives of the men in Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. Glatthaar spent nearly 20 years examining and ordering primary source material to ferret out why Lee's men fought, how they lived during the war, "how they came close to winning, and why they lost." Glatthaar marshals convincing evidence to challenge the often-expressed notion that the war in the South was "a rich man's war and a poor man's fight" and that support for slavery was concentrated among the Southern upper class. Lee's army included the rich, poor and middle-class, according to the author, who contends that there was broad support for the war "in all economic strata of Confederate society." He also challenges the myth that because Union forces outnumbered and materially outmatched the Confederates, the rebel cause was lost, and articulates Lee and his army's acumen and achievements in the face of this overwhelming opposition. This well-written work provides much food for thought for all Civil War buffs. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Kirkus Book Review

Everything you ever wanted to know about the Army of Northern Virginia. Ironies abound in this thick but highly readable tome from Glatthaar (History/UNC-Chapel Hill; Partners in Command: The Relationships Between Leaders in the Civil War, 1993, etc.). The wild enthusiasm following secession produced far more volunteers than the Confederate army could handle, but conscription became law in less than a year. Dissenting from the argument that Confederate soldiers fought for ideals we cherish today, the author states bluntly that Robert E. Lee's men knew they were defending slavery. Historians traditionally emphasize that only one in 20 Southerners owned slaves, but Glatthaar points out that this neglects men who lived in households that included slaves: nearly half of enlisted men and virtually all officers. Even nonslaveholding soldiers took it for granted that Northern efforts to restrict slavery were a vicious attack on Southern freedom. For them, the idea that blacks deserved freedom was proof of Yankee insanity. Assuming command in June 1862, Lee vaulted from obscurity to acclaim during bloody battles that drove Union forces back from Richmond. He was an intelligent, aggressive general, perhaps too aggressive for a leader whose army had limited resources. When the fortunes of war favored him, Lee won great victories but always against weak opposing generals. Like Hannibal before and Rommel after him, his triumphs ended when he faced a competent adversary, in this case Ulysses S. Grant. While Glatthaar deals adequately with the battles, he shines in writing about the soldiers themselves. He finds the catchphrase "a rich man's war and a poor man's fight" to be exaggerated; poor, comfortable and prosperous men joined in equal numbers. Most gripping are the depressing details of the South's persistent failure to supply Lee's army: Soldiers often starved, dressed in rags and marched without shoes. A unique, often controversial description of Lee's soldiers, their background and the conditions under which they fought. Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

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