A Great Civil War: A Military and Political History, 1861-1865 / Edition 1

A Great Civil War: A Military and Political History, 1861-1865 / Edition 1

4.0 2
by Russell F. Weigley

View All Available Formats & Editions

ISBN-10: 0253337380

ISBN-13: 9780253337382

Pub. Date: 06/28/2000

Publisher: Indiana University Press

A major new narrative interpretation of the Civil War is offered by the dean of American military historians. In his most controversial assertion, Weigley contends that the South, despite its powerful defense, was ambivalent about leaving the Union and gave up more easily than might have been expected. 50 maps.


A major new narrative interpretation of the Civil War is offered by the dean of American military historians. In his most controversial assertion, Weigley contends that the South, despite its powerful defense, was ambivalent about leaving the Union and gave up more easily than might have been expected. 50 maps.

Product Details

Indiana University Press
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.25(h) x 1.84(d)

Table of Contents

List of Mapsx
Note on Stylexi
To the Gettysburg Addressxvii
Nineteenth-Century Americans at Warxxii
Why Did They Fight?xxviii
From Secession to War
The Forts at Charleston1
The Anomalous Southern Nation6
The South Begins to Mobilize10
Fort Sumter: The Crisis Approaches16
Fort Sumter: The Bombardment21
Militant America23
The Battle Lines Form
Napoleonic War29
War in a New Style32
Washington Rescued36
Contentious Missouri: A Failure for Both Sides39
Neutralist Kentucky45
Western Virginia: Secession withinSecession49
Mobilizing the Union55
First Bull Run58
Groping for Strategy and Purpose
The Union: War Aims and Military Frustration64
The Confederacy: Recruitment, Finance, Blockade, and War
The Invincible U.S. Navy72
The Trent Affair and a Paper Tiger77
The Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War81
Three Essays on Abolitionism: Butler, Frémont,
Lincoln and the Purpose of the War90
McClellan and the Purpose of the War92
Bloodshed and Indecision
An Unhappy New Year95
Mill Springs96
A Western Strategy Takes Shape99
Pea Ridge: The Great Battle of the Trans-Mississippi101
The Far West106
Forts Henry and Donelson108
Western Drumbeat: New Madrid, Island No 10, the
Locomotive General, Corinth, New Orleans115
Conscription in the South118
The Potomac Front119
Battle of Ironclads120
McClellan Launches the Peninsula Campaign122
Stonewall Jackson's Valley Campaign126
The Climax on the Peninsula: The Seven Daysl29
The Confederacy Takes the Initiative
Cedar Mountain and Second Bull Run135
Lee's First Strategic Offensive: The Maryland Campaign144
Confederate Riposte in the West: Iuka and Corinth155
Confederate Offensive in the West: The Kentucky Campaign157
Lee versus McClellan — For the Last Time160
Of Liberty and War
The End of Slavery: The Sea Islands163
The End of Slavery: Congressional Action168
The End of Slavery: The President170
The Civil Conflict as Full-Fledged War177
Liberty Imperiled in the Name of Liberty180
The End of Slavery: Arming African Americans185
The End of Slavery: The Emancipation Proclamation of
January l, 1863191
Armies and Societies
Fredericksburg, the Mississippi River Campaign, and
Stones River193
Lincoln and the Republican Party197
Congress Refashions the Union201
The Union Pays for Its War204
Dissent in War: The Opposition in the North210
Inside the Confederacy217
Charleston Harbor and Chancellorsville223
Lee Turns North229
Three Seasons of Battle
Paying the Toll of War: The Military Draft in the North231
The March to Gettysburg236
Gettysburg: The Battle242
Gettysburg: The Assessment253
Vicksburg: Preparations256
Vicksburg: Grant's Great Campaign of Maneuver Warfare264
The Trans-Mississippi270
On the Horizon: The Postwar World
Assuring Freedom286
The Burden of Race289
From Battlefield to Polling Place (I)293
The Beginnings of Reconstruction297
The Union: The War, the Economy, and the Society303
The Confederacy: Accelerating Breakdown308
Traditional Politics and Modern War
Lincoln Renominated317
The Union Army Retained321
The Generalship of U. S. Grant324
The Wilderness, Spotsylvania, and Cold Harbor330
The Race to Petersburg336
The Siege of Petersburg: The First Phase338
C.S.S. Alabama341
A Catalog of Union Frustration: Red River, Bermuda
Hundred, and Washington344
The Politics of Military Deadlock347
Suspense and Resolution
Chattanooga to Atlanta358
Battling for Atlanta363
Mobile Bay and Sheridan's Valley Campaign367
From Battlefield to Polling Place (II)378
The Relentless War
Sheridan's War against the Enemy's Economy384
Sherman's War against the Enemy's Economy and Morale386
The Death Throes of the Confederacy396
The End of Slavery: The Constitutional Assurance402
The Fires Die
Franklin and Nashville412
The Campaign of the Carolinas416
The Petersburg Campaign, Summer 1864-Spring 1865423
To Appomattox434
Richmond and Reunion442
Durham Station446
The Terrible Assassination, and the Terrible War450
The Sudden Death of the Confederacy453
Notes on Maps562

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >

A Great Civil War: A Military and Political History, 1861-1865 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
To anyone familiar with the distinguished career and military scholarship of Professor Russell F. Weigley, his long-awaited study of the Americna Civil War must come as a great disappointment. The book lacks the in-depth analysis of strategy, tactics and personality that made the author's, 'Eisenhower's Lieutenants' so impressive, and his, 'The American Way of War,' so important. Here, Weigley has one main thesis: that Civil War generals lacked adequate strategic and operational concepts to effectively organize and fight their armies. He then repeats this argument throughtout the text, using specific battles to illustrate his point. It is a good point, but it does not carry a six hundred page opus. To make matters worse, Weigley's discussion of the battles is sometimes sketchy at best -- for example, he discusses the Battle of Fredericksburg in less than a paragraph on page 194! Yet there is a lenghty discussion of the firing on Fort Sumpter from pages 16 to 23 that adds nothing to his overall thesis. In fact, the text tends to ramble at times, and one wonders if a more effective editor could not have improved it. (Note, also, the omission of an author's page at the beginning of the book to list all of Weigley's other works. This is a glaring and unforunate oversight by the publisher.) Weigley is surprisigly good, however, on the Union goals in the war, particularly on the place of abolition and emancipation in Union strategy. In fact, Weigley is most impressive away from the battlefield, in his discusison of the war aims of the combatants and the societal constraints on the Union and Confederate armies. Not surprisingly, of course, Weigley is excellent and illumminating in his discussion of the Civil War in the context of nineteenth century warfare. Also excellent are the endnotes, maps and annotated bibliography. In sum, 'A Great Civil War,' is a good study of the United States Civil War, but it is not the great book one might have expected it to be. It is original in part and derivitive in part, more an extended personal essay (in a moving aside, Weigley shares his family's personal roots in the Union Army) than a serious scholarly study. While it does not supplant or replace earlier studies such as 'Battle Cry of Freedom,' by James M. McPherson, or 'How the North Won,' by Hattaway and Jones, it does provide an informed and graceful companion to them.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A Great Civil War makes a strong case that the Civil War was a necessary tragedy. This gracefully written historical narrative effortlessly spans the range of Civil War scholarship. The focus shifts smoothly from vivid personal details to battlefield tactics, and from campaign strategies (or, all too often, the lack of them) to the intimate connection of warfare, policy, and politics. Amongst his always illuminating battle narratives, the author intersperses short essays on such subjects as the design of ever more lethal weapons, the era¿s formative military myths, and how the demands of full-scale war centralized the nation¿s banking system and greatly enhanced the power of the federal government. This book¿s greatest contribution may be the author¿s willingness to make clear judgments based on balanced discussions of conflicting views. For example, Weigley presents a compelling argument that the Confederacy failed in large part because it could never overcome a basic ambivalence in its purpose: the incompatible goals of continuing slavery and the Southern lifestyle within a Union most Southern leaders believed in and complete severance from that Union. This ambivalence helps explain both why fighting ended so quickly after formal military defeat and why many Civil War issues remain unresolved. A parallel theme Weigley develops is the Northern shift from fighting for Victorian ideals of duty and honor to fighting to advance the moral cause of liberation. With eye-opening clarity, he demonstrates that as popular support for the war and the Republican Party waned, Lincoln and others changed their rhetorical and moral focus from restoration of the Union to the elimination of slavery. Thus, slavery became a moral motive for the North to continue waging war in large part because of political expediency. On a subject he has explored elsewhere, the author notes that each war develops its own momentum that reshapes the political purposes that began it. Thus, the Civil War, for the North, began as an effort to restore the constitutional union of the American Revolution but ended as a revolutionary struggle to uproot slavery and, along with it, the foundations of Southern life. The author implies an ambivalence toward emancipation that in some ways mirrors the South¿s ambivalence toward its cause. He finds in the North¿s eventual dedication to the elimination of slavery little concern for the practical matter of how the liberated slaves and their descendants would participate in America¿s democratic experiment -- a singularly important Civil War legacy. The few flaws are minor: the book has too few maps, and none that sufficiently covers the classic Johnston-Sherman duel from Chattanooga to Atlanta; the maps and text occasionally differ in the spelling of place and road names; the important Richmond and Danville Railroad is unidentified on the second map although listed in the legend; the typo 'throught' escaped spell-checking software and proof-reading; and the index, though useful, omits occurrences of repeated names, locations, and topics. This superb -- and superbly readable -- work is at one level a model of the virtues of the narrative form backed by solid scholarship. At another, subtler level, it is a deeply principled call to re-examine our national myths and bring the lessons we learn to bear on this nation¿s many unresolved social and institutional struggles.