Stephen Karlson (shkarlson) wrote in 50bookchallenge,
Stephen Karlson


Robert E. Lee took command of the Confederate armies seemingly pinned and about to be defeated in front of Richmond in June of 1862, and bought the rebellion almost three more years, which might or might not have contributed to the way the United States became whole again after April of 1865.  (Richmond occupied, but the nearest army to Charleston being in Virginia, rather than at Charleston's suburbs with Columbia sacked, sounds like material for all sorts of counterfactuals.)  Jeffry Wert's A Glorious Army: Robert E. Lee's Triumph 1862-1863 rates a positive Book Review No. 10.  One can argue that Genl McClellan acted unwisely from the commencement of the Seven Days Campaign to his failure to exploit the situation at Antietam, and that Gens Burnside and Hooker did almost everything badly ... and yet rebel general Johnston allowed the cautious McClellan to advance to the gates of Richmond itself, while Lee was able to push the Army of the Potomac away and mount more than one threat to Washington itself.  The book is as good a survey of the eastern campaign as I have encountered, and likely to be instructive to anyone seeking information about the unpleasantness whose sesquicentennial we are currently observing.  The book effectively ends with the last day at Gettysburg, but not before giving reason to doubt those scenarios in which the Army of Northern Virginia gets between the Army of the Potomac and Washington D. C.  It says very little about the Overland Campaign of 1864, but what it says at page 286 is sufficient.  "With their crossing Grant seized the strategic initiative in Virginia and, unlike his predecessors, never relinquished the grip on Lee's army."  And thus was Old Dixie driven down.

(Cross-posted to Cold Spring Shops.)
Tags: history

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