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Chancellorsville

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Overview


Sears describes the series of controversial events that define this crucial battle, including General Robert E. Lee's radical decision to divide his small army--a violation of basic military rules--sending Stonewall Jackson on his famous march around the Union army flank. Jackson's death--accidentally shot by one of his own soldiers--is one of the many fascinating stories included in this definitive account of the battle of Chancellorsville.
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Chancellorsville

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Overview


Sears describes the series of controversial events that define this crucial battle, including General Robert E. Lee's radical decision to divide his small army--a violation of basic military rules--sending Stonewall Jackson on his famous march around the Union army flank. Jackson's death--accidentally shot by one of his own soldiers--is one of the many fascinating stories included in this definitive account of the battle of Chancellorsville.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Definitive - A must." Kirkus Reviews
Chicago Tribune
The finest and most provocative Civil War historian writing today.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Chancellorsville was one of the Civil War's pivotal campaigns, a great victory for the South that, however, led directly to the death of top Confederate general Stonewall Jackson. It hasn't generated the amount of literature devoted to most major Civil War battles, largely because John Bigelow's 1910 classic, The Campaign of Chancellorsville, seemed for years to offer the last word. But Sears, employing a mix of published and unpublished primary accounts to buttress secondary studies, manages to offer more than one new word in a thoroughly engaging text. Most notable is his use of Union military intelligence reports to show how General Joseph Hooker was fed a stream of accurate information about Robert E. Lee's troops; conversely, Sears points out the battlefield communications failures that hampered the Union army at critical times. He also examines the roles of Hooker and his corps commanders, finding that half of the latter badly served their commander in the campaign. On the Confederate side, Sears analyzes Lee's faulty intelligence and his relationships with his subordinates. Throughout, he highlights Lee's marvelous good luck, as well as his army's fighting capability. One of the book's three appendices explores several of the battle's "romances" e.g., Jackson's wounding, Alfred Pleasonton's false stories, while two other appendices present orders of battle and casualties. A model campaign study, Sears's account of Chancellorsville is likely to remain the standard for years to come.
Library Journal
Sears turns his formidable skills from General George McClellan (To the Gates of Richmond) to "Fighting Joe" Hooker and the last great battle in which Napoleonic-style tactical offense prevailed. Sears's almost hour-by-hour account of soldiers under fire will confuse some, but close readers will find a stunning analysis of how terrain, personality, chance, and other factors affect fighting and distort strategic design. Sears offers new information on the "modern" intelligence gathering of the Union Army, refutes many old "romances" of Chancellorsville, especially the one that Hooker lost his nerve, and adds vital details to both commanders and battle movements. He also shows that Hooker, more than McClellan, made the Army of the Potomac into "the finest army on the planet" -- one that survived bad generalship and Robert E. Lee's aggressive moves at Chancellorsville. Sears also reminds us that "character" and "will" count for much in war. The Confederacy did not die with Stonewall Jackson at Chancellorsville, as Southerners often lament, but many men did and to little purpose. Battlefield victory alone did not win the war. A tour de force in military history. -- Randall M. Miller, St. Joseph's University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Library Journal
Sears turns his formidable skills from General George McClellan (To the Gates of Richmond) to "Fighting Joe" Hooker and the last great battle in which Napoleonic-style tactical offense prevailed. Sears's almost hour-by-hour account of soldiers under fire will confuse some, but close readers will find a stunning analysis of how terrain, personality, chance, and other factors affect fighting and distort strategic design. Sears offers new information on the "modern" intelligence gathering of the Union Army, refutes many old "romances" of Chancellorsville, especially the one that Hooker lost his nerve, and adds vital details to both commanders and battle movements. He also shows that Hooker, more than McClellan, made the Army of the Potomac into "the finest army on the planet" -- one that survived bad generalship and Robert E. Lee's aggressive moves at Chancellorsville. Sears also reminds us that "character" and "will" count for much in war. The Confederacy did not die with Stonewall Jackson at Chancellorsville, as Southerners often lament, but many men did and to little purpose. Battlefield victory alone did not win the war. A tour de force in military history. -- Randall M. Miller, St. Joseph's University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Chicago Tribune
The finest and most provocative Civil War historian writing today.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780395877449
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 6/28/1998
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 640
  • Sales rank: 291,420
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.44 (d)

Meet the Author


STEPHEN W. SEARS is the author of many award-winning books on the Civil War, including Gettysburg and Landscape Turned Red. The New York Times Book Review has called him "arguably the preeminent living historian of the war's eastern theater." He is a former editor for American Heritage.
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 31, 2004

    Another good Sears campaign study

    I began reading Chancellorville on an airplane ride back to Texas after visiting Gettysburg and reading Sear's Gettysburg book. Sears details the events of the week long battle, which has become known as Robert E. Lee's masterpiece campaign. Sears focusses primarily on command decisions and mistakes within the Northern command and how they were most responsible for their defeat. It is another great Sear's campaign study intended for the military history lover, not the general reader. Sears does a great job of mapping the thinking of Hooker, Meade, Sedwick, and the other Union generals of the campaign, but rich lively description is not his style. I enjoyed the book, and I think all in all its a pretty balanced account. One criticism that I would offer though, Sears seems to draw much more heavily from Northern sources in his campaign studies than from Southern ones. You get a great sense of the battle from the Northern perspective, but I feel like he doesn't do as good of a job putting you in the minds of the Southern generals and command. Perhaps he feels that there is already plenty written of Lee and Jackson's strategies and conceptions of Chancellorsville, and he has a job to set the record straight on Hooker's perspectives of the campaign. I don't think his book suffers as a result, but I would not call his account the definitive version of Chancellorsville. Indeed, such a definitive version may not exist. In the final analysis, if you are interested in this great battle of the Civil War, you will not go wrong with this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 10, 2001

    Changing Fortunes at Chancellorsville

    Sears clarifies a number of military issues related to this battle including communications, intelligence, cavalry, chain-of-command, and timing. General Hooker receives an impartial review from the author and changes my impression of Hooker's impact on the Army of the Potomac and the US military. Union and Confederate perspectives equally and fully presented. Very readable and understandable.

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    Posted July 29, 2009

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    Posted June 30, 2011

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    Posted January 8, 2010

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