Dixie Betrayed: How the South Really Lost the Civil War

Overview

For more than a century, conventional wisdom has held that the South lost the Civil War because of bad luck and overwhelming Union strength. The politicians and generals on the Confederate side have been lionized as noble warriors who bravely fought for states' rights. But in Dixie Betrayed, historian David J. Eicher reveals the real story, a calamity of political conspiracy, discord, and dysfunction that cost the South the Civil War.

Drawing on a wide variety of previously ...

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Dixie Betrayed: How the South Really Lost the Civil War

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Overview

For more than a century, conventional wisdom has held that the South lost the Civil War because of bad luck and overwhelming Union strength. The politicians and generals on the Confederate side have been lionized as noble warriors who bravely fought for states' rights. But in Dixie Betrayed, historian David J. Eicher reveals the real story, a calamity of political conspiracy, discord, and dysfunction that cost the South the Civil War.

Drawing on a wide variety of previously unexplored sources, Eicher shows how President Jefferson Davis viciously fought with the Confederate House and Senate, state governors, and his own cabinet. Some Confederate senators threatened one another with physical violence; others were hopeless idealists who would not bend even when victory depended on flexibility. Military commanders were assigned not on the basis of skill but because of personal connections. Davis frequently interfered with his generals, micromanaging their field campaigns, ignoring the chain of command, and sometimes trusting utterly incompetent men. Even more problematic, some states wanted to set themselves up as separate nations, further undermining a unified war effort. Tensions were so extreme that the vice president of the Confederacy refused to live in the same state as Davis. Dixie Betrayed blasts away previous myths about the Civil War. It is essential reading for Civil War buffs and for anyone interested in how governments of any age can self-destruct during wartime.

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Editorial Reviews

American Heritage
"Eicher's previous Civil War books are military histories, and his martial knowledge shows in Dixie Betrayed. He contrasts broad-stroke depictions of brutal battles and mounting Southern casualties with the Confederate government's apparent obliviousness of its need for unity."

— Christine Gibson, American Heritage

Booklist
"Much ink has been spilled debating the question of why the South lost the Civil War. Eicher offers his own significant analysis of what he views as the central issue: how the Confederacy shot itslef in the foot because its leaders together . . . founded an imperfect union, and together they destroyed it."—Booklist
Jeffry D. Wert
"David Eicher''s Dixie Betrayed is a provocative new examination of the internal conflicts that doomed the Confederacy. In a swiftly paced narrative, Eicher offers astute profiles of Confederate leaders and makes a compelling case for the destructive power of states'' rights that ultimately led to the defeat of the Southern nation. This book will rekindle vital arguments about the Confederate saga."

-Jeffry D. Wert, author of The Sword of Lincoln

American Heritage - Christine Gibson
"Eicher's previous Civil War books are military histories, and his martial knowledge shows in Dixie Betrayed. He contrasts broad-stroke depictions of brutal battles and mounting Southern casualties with the Confederate government's apparent obliviousness of its need for unity."—Christine Gibson, American Heritage
Jeffry D. Wert
"David Eicher's Dixie Betrayed is a provocative new examination of the internal conflicts that doomed the Confederacy. In a swiftly paced narrative, Eicher offers astute profiles of Confederate leaders and makes a compelling case for the destructive power of states' rights that ultimately led to the defeat of the Southern nation. This book will rekindle vital arguments about the Confederate saga."—Jeffry D. Wert, author of The Sword of Lincoln
Library Journal
Eicher (The Longest Night: A Military History of the Civil War) turns to the personalities and politics of the Confederate government to explore and explain the South's failure to win its independence. He follows a long trail of historians who argue that Dixie died from states' rights. Because the Confederacy lacked a strong central government, owing to politicians who placed states' rights above all else, and was not overseen by effective leadership that could convey a compelling national identity, it was not capable of survival. Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederate States of America, battled with his generals and the Confederate Congress over appointments, conscription, the use (and even arming) of slaves in the war effort, presidential authority, and peace initiatives. While Southerners developed a deep commitment to the idea of a Southern nation, they lacked the will and means to achieve it. Eicher insists that Jefferson Davis is largely responsible for these circumstances. Students of the Confederacy and the Civil War will appreciate Eicher's vignettes of secessionists, generals, and Confederate cabinet officers, but they will not find much new here in information or argument. Recommended only for university and public libraries wanting comprehensive Civil War holdings.-Randall M. Miller, Saint Joseph's Univ., Philadelphia Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780803260177
  • Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
  • Publication date: 10/28/2007
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 1,428,017
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

David J. Eicher is the author of numerous books about the Civil War, including The Longest Night.
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Table of Contents

1 Prologue 7
2 Birth of a nation 17
3 Portrait of a president 37
4 The war department 49
5 A curious cabinet 63
6 The military high command 77
7 State rightisms 91
8 Richmond, the capital 108
9 The rise of Lee and Bragg 123
10 An uneasy brotherhood 134
11 Jockeying for position 153
12 Politics spinning out of control 166
13 Can't we all get along? 180
14 Soiled reputations 194
15 The president versus the Congress 206
16 Military highs and lows 224
17 Slaves as soldiers? 244
18 Peace proposals 256
19 Epilogue : despair 276
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  • Posted February 6, 2010

    Betrayed its title, but still a good read for other reasons

    I give "Dixie Betrayed" 2/5 stars because I don't want to convey the impression that it's a horrible book, because it's not, but the truth is that "Dixie Betrayed" betrayed its title.

    I don't really subscribe to the "internal politics doomed the CSA" theory, but regardless, Eicher totally failed in his quest to prove it. Much of the book is spent discribing the war itself, including strategic maneuvers and battle details, and although sometimes these things affected the generals' relationships with the CSA government, most of Eicher's battle depictions don't touch on this. Way too much time is spent on the generic "what happened" and way too little time was spent analyzing it in the context of the book's stated theme. Further, when a war event was analyzed, it wasn't synthesized; for example, much time was spent describing Congressional debates as, "Again, much talk and no action with nobody winding up happy," but no time was spent on proving how any such occassion actually ruined the Confederate cause. In short, all Eicher proved was that the CSA acted like a country with a central government that debated amongst itself, but he totally failed to prove not only that this doomed the CSA but also that it even hurt the short-lived country in the slightest bit.

    BUT, it was not a totally horrible book. In fact, I found it to be rather entertaining and well-written in terms of following the war from the CSA government's perspective. Personally, I would still recommend this book, but only to those who understand that what it gives is a very readable Southern-view synopsis of the war with some rather interesting stories that I haven't found elsewhere about what happened inside Richmond. I picked up this book originally hoping to learn a lot about the inner CSA government and the relationships between Davis, the Congress, the governors, and the generals, and I suppose I did get some of that goal accomplished. However, I still cannot give more than 2.5/5.0 stars, which is a stretch in itself, since so much of the book is devoted to the war itself rather than the politics.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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