Confederate Struggle for Command: General James Longstreet and the First Corps in the West

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Overview


Was Lt. Gen. James Longstreet a lackluster, indecisive leader or a victim of political circumstances?

Though traditionally saddled with much of the blame for the Confederate loss at Gettysburg, Longstreet was actually a capable, resourceful, and brave commander, argues historian Alexander Mendoza. Confederate Struggle for Command offers a comprehensive analysis of Longstreet’s leadership during his seven-month assignment in the Tennessee theater of operations. Mendoza concludes that the obstacles to effective command faced by Longstreet had at least as much to do with longstanding grievances and politically motivated prejudices as they did with any personal or military shortcomings of Longstreet’s.

Longstreet’s First Corps parted company with Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia in September 1863. Subsequently, the First Corps contributed decisively to the Confederate victory at Chickamauga. But when Longstreet then joined a group of disaffected generals in denouncing Braxton Bragg, the commanding general of the Army of Tennessee, the resulting imbroglio hampered the effectiveness of the entire First Corps.

Confederate Struggle for Command adds an important layer of nuanced understanding to the career and legacy of Lt. Gen. James Longstreet, and will be an enjoyable and informative source for Civil War buffs, military historians, and interested general readers.

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Editorial Reviews

McCormick Messenger

"Confederate Struggle for Command adds an important layer of nuanced understanding to the career and legacy of Lt. Gen. James Longstreet." -McCormick Messenger

Military History of the Past

"Alexander Mendoza delivers a well-written, very well-researched, and objective analysis of Lieutenant General James Longstreet's leadership in the Western theatre of operations from late 1863 to early 1864. The book is definitely worth reading, especially for scholars of the Confederate high command and southern strategy, but also for those interested in an even-handed interpretation of the events surrounding the 1863 Chattanooga and Knoxville Campaigns. . . Mendoza succeeds in fairly analyzing why Longstreet failed to meet both his and others' expectations when he and his First corps of the Army of Northern Virginia were detached to serve with Braxton Bragg's Army of Tennessee in the late summer of 1863." - Chris Keller, Military History of the Past

— Chris Keller

The Historian

"In his current work, Alexander Mendoza breaks new ground in the debate over Longstreet's abilities and his military acumen...Using a wealth of primary and secondary sources, the author lifts the veil of negativity that has settled over Longstreet's legacy through the decades...He offers a balanced assessment of the general's career in the West and does not gloss over Longstreet's shortcomings. Confederate Struggle for Command is a valuable addition to the scholarship on Longstreet, as it offers a fresh perspective and adds to the debate over the general's overall role in the Civil War. It also offers an interesting glimpse into the dynamics of the Confederate command structure in the West and the ebb and flow of Confederate military politics. For all these reasons, anyone interested in James Longstreet as a commander, or the western theater of the American Civil War, would do well to take a look at this book."--Trudy Eden, The Historian

— Trudy Eden

Military History of the Past - Chris Keller

"Alexander Mendoza delivers a well-written, very well-researched, and objective analysis of Lieutenant General James Longstreet's leadership in the Western theatre of operations from late 1863 to early 1864. The book is definitely worth reading, especially for scholars of the Confederate high command and southern strategy, but also for those interested in an even-handed interpretation of the events surrounding the 1863 Chattanooga and Knoxville Campaigns. . . Mendoza succeeds in fairly analyzing why Longstreet failed to meet both his and others' expectations when he and his First corps of the Army of Northern Virginia were detached to serve with Braxton Bragg's Army of Tennessee in the late summer of 1863." - Chris Keller, Military History of the Past
The Historian - Trudy Eden

"In his current work, Alexander Mendoza breaks new ground in the debate over Longstreet's abilities and his military acumen...Using a wealth of primary and secondary sources, the author lifts the veil of negativity that has settled over Longstreet's legacy through the decades...He offers a balanced assessment of the general's career in the West and does not gloss over Longstreet's shortcomings. Confederate Struggle for Command is a valuable addition to the scholarship on Longstreet, as it offers a fresh perspective and adds to the debate over the general's overall role in the Civil War. It also offers an interesting glimpse into the dynamics of the Confederate command structure in the West and the ebb and flow of Confederate military politics. For all these reasons, anyone interested in James Longstreet as a commander, or the western theater of the American Civil War, would do well to take a look at this book."--Trudy Eden, The Historian
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Product Details

Meet the Author


ALEXANDER MENDOZA, assistant professor of history at the University of Texas at Tyler, holds a Ph.D. from Texas Tech University.
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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations

1 Our Best Opportunity for Great Results Is in Tennessee: Longstreet and the First Corps's Road to the West 1

2 One of the Most Gallant Struggles: Operation Westward Ho and the Chickamauga Campaign 27

3 The Shafts of Malice That Have Been Hurled against Him: Longstreet and the Command Crisis in the Army of Tennessee 53

4 "It Is Hard to Keep up One's Spirits with an Empty Stomach and Wet Clothing: The First Corps at Chattanooga 75

5 No Men Who Are Determined to Succeed Can Fail: Knoxville, November 1863 104

6 I Long for Some Relief from This Constant Toil and Anxiety: Leadership and Conflict in the First Corps, 1863-64 141

7 Bitter Cold, Everything Frozen: The First Corps in East Tennessee, 1863-64 171

Appendix 211

Notes 215

Bibliography 251

Index 273

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