General Lee's Army: From Victory to Collapse
Simon and Schuster, Mar 18, 2008 - History - 624 pages
"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.
What people are saying - Write a review
Reviews aren't verified, but Google checks for and removes fake content when it's identified
LibraryThing ReviewUser Review - bobbre - LibraryThing
A thorough and readable history of the Army of Northern Virginia. There were, however numerous instances when the reader is beset with some rather copious statistics which while illustrating the ... Read full review
LibraryThing ReviewUser Review - ALincolnNut - LibraryThing
Combining classic military history with a wealth of social history insights, Joseph Glatthaar details the exploits and experiences of the Army of Northern Virginia in the aptly titled "General Lee's ... Read full review
a Great Canvass City
Keeping the army Together
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
Camp and recreation
religion and morality
The Grind of War
spiral of Defeat
The Final Days
Other editions - View all
Common terms and phrases
A. P. Hill Alabama ammunition Army of Northern artillery attack battle battlefield Beauregard Brig Brigade brother camp campaign Carolinian casualties cavalry Chancellorsville Chris Robinson combat comrades Confederacy Confederate conscripts corps D. H. Hill deserters diary division duty early Early’s enemy enlisted Ewell Family Papers father Federals field fight fire Fitz Lee flank forces fought Fredericksburg FSNBP Georgia Gettysburg Gilder-Lehrman Collection Hill Infantry Jackson James John Johnston July June killed Lafayette McLaws Lee to Davis Lee’s army Letters lieutenant Longstreet Louisiana Manassas McLaws military months Mother NCDAH North Carolina Northern Virginia ofthe Pendleton percent Rebel Records regiment Richmond Robert Robert Stafford Second Manassas Sister soldiers South Southern suffered Taylor Thomas troops U.S. Census Union Union army USAMHI wife William wounded wrote Yankees
Page 461 - I would say that peace being my great desire, there is but one condition I would insist upon, namely, that the men and officers surrendered shall be disqualified for taking up arms again against the Government of the United States until properly exchanged.
Page 287 - To ask me to substitute you by some one in my judgment more fit to command, or who would possess more of the confidence of the army, or of the reflecting men of the country, is to demand an impossibility.
Page 247 - I have just received your note, informing me that you were wounded. I cannot express my regret at the occurrence. Could I have directed events, I should have chosen, for the good of the country, to have been disabled in your stead. I congratulate you upon the victory which is due to your skill and energy.
Page 278 - I will only be able to judge of the effect of our fire on the enemy by his return fire, for his infantry is but little exposed to view and the smoke will obscure the whole field. If, as I infer from your note, there is any alternative to this attack, it should be carefully considered before opening our fire, for it will take all the artillery ammunition we have left to test this one thoroughly, and, if the result is unfavorable, we will have none left for another effort. And even if this is entirely...
Page 124 - The most remarkable circumstance of this campaign was, that it was conducted by a general who had never fought a battle, who had a pious horror of guerrillas, and whose extreme tenderness of blood induced him to depend exclusively upon the resources of strategy, to essay the achievement of victories without the cost of life.
Page 449 - The state of despondency that now prevails among our people is producing a bad effect upon the troops. Desertions are becoming very frequent, and there is good reason to believe that they are occasioned to a considerable extent by letters written to the soldiers by their friends at home.
Page 461 - GENERAL: I received at a late hour your note of to-day. In mine of yesterday I did not intend to propose the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia, but to ask the terms of your proposition. To be frank, I do not think the emergency has arisen to call for the surrender of this army...
Page 217 - Soldiers! you tread, with no unequal steps, the road by which your fathers marched through suffering, privation, and blood to independence! "Continue to emulate in the future, as you have in the past, their valor in arms, their patient endurance of hardships, their high resolve to...
Page 135 - Should there be nothing requiring your attention in the Valley so as to prevent your leaving it in a few days, and you can make arrangements to deceive the enemy and impress him with the idea of your presence, please let me know, that you may unite at the decisive moment with the army near Richmond.