Joseph E. Johnston: A Civil War Biography

Overview

"Riveting. . . . A thoughtful biography." —New York Times Book Review
General Joseph E. Johnston was in command of Confederate forces at the South's first victory—Manassas in July 1861—and at its last—Bentonville in April 1965. Many of his contemporaries considered him the greatest southern field commander of the war; others ranked him second only to Robert E. Lee.
But Johnston was an enigmatic man. His battlefield victories were never decisive. He failed to save Confederate ...

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Overview

"Riveting. . . . A thoughtful biography." —New York Times Book Review
General Joseph E. Johnston was in command of Confederate forces at the South's first victory—Manassas in July 1861—and at its last—Bentonville in April 1965. Many of his contemporaries considered him the greatest southern field commander of the war; others ranked him second only to Robert E. Lee.
But Johnston was an enigmatic man. His battlefield victories were never decisive. He failed to save Confederate forces under siege by Grant at Vicksburg, and he retreated into Georgia in the face of Sherman's march. His intense feud with Jefferson Davis ensured the collapse of the Confederacy's western campaign in 1864 and made Johnston the focus of a political schism within the government.
Now in this rousing narrative of Johnston's dramatic career, Craig L. Symonds gives us the first rounded portrait of the general as a public and private man.

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Editorial Reviews

New York Times Book Review
“Riveting. . . . A thoughtful biography.”
Charles Royster
“A vivid, fast-moving narrative of Johnston's dramatic career. Symonds brings careful research and even-handed judiciousness to a fascinating story full of incident and controversy.”
Byron Farwell - Washington Times
“A splendid, even-handed biography.”
Journal of American History
“The most readable and interesting biography yet on Joe Johnston.”
Library Journal
Symonds offers a well-written annotated biography of one of the more controversial generals of the Civil War. Johnston is often considered to be the greatest Southern field commander, while others rank him second only to Robert E. Lee. Yet his personal faults deprived him of many opportunities for leadership. He fell into disfavor with Jefferson Davis due to Johnston's insistence that he should be the senior field commander rather than Lee. Johnston also tended to be very vague and indefinite in giving orders to his subordinates, and this cost him victory in several battles. Johnston was a military person and did not understand or appreciate the importance of political factors in military planning. He also believed that cities should be sacrificed to save manpower, which brought him into disfavor with the loss of Vicksburg. This is the best biography that has been written about Johnston, as it treats his war and political experiences evenly and without bias. Academic libraries as well as those with Civil War collections should purchase.-- W. Walter Wicker, Louisiana Tech Univ., Ruston
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393311303
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 6/28/1994
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 466
  • Sales rank: 818,484
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Craig L. Symonds is professor of history at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis and a specialist in military history.

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