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A fascinating narrative-and a bold new thesis in the study of the Civil War-that suggests Robert E. Lee had a heretofore undiscovered strategy at Gettysburg that, if successful, could have crushed the Union forces and changed the outcome of the war.The Battle of Gettysburg is the pivotal moment when the Union forces repelled perhaps America's greatest commander-the brilliant Robert E. Lee, who had already thrashed a long line of Federal opponents-just as he was poised at the back door of Washington, D.C. It is ...
A fascinating narrative-and a bold new thesis in the study of the Civil War-that suggests Robert E. Lee had a heretofore undiscovered strategy at Gettysburg that, if successful, could have crushed the Union forces and changed the outcome of the war.The Battle of Gettysburg is the pivotal moment when the Union forces repelled perhaps America's greatest commander-the brilliant Robert E. Lee, who had already thrashed a long line of Federal opponents-just as he was poised at the back door of Washington, D.C. It is the moment in which the fortunes of Lee, Lincoln, the Confederacy, and the Union hung precariously in the balance.Conventional wisdom has held to date, almost without exception, that on the third day of the battle, Lee made one profoundly wrong decision. But how do we reconcile Lee the high-risk warrior with Lee the general who launched "Pickett's Charge," employing only a fifth of his total forces, across an open field, up a hill, against the heart of the Union defenses? Most history books have reported that Lee just had one very bad day. But there is much more to the story, which Tom Carhart addresses for the first time.With meticulous detail and startling clarity, Carhart revisits the historic battles Lee taught at West Point and believed were the essential lessons in the art of war-the victories of Napoleon at Austerlitz, Frederick the Great at Leuthen, and Hannibal at Cannae-and reveals what they can tell us about Lee's real strategy. What Carhart finds will thrill all students of history: Lee's plan for an electrifying rear assault by Jeb Stuart that, combined with the frontal assault, could have broken the Union forces in half. Only in the final hours of the battle was the attack reversed through the daring of an unproven young general-George Armstrong Custer.Lost Triumph will be one of the most captivating and controversial history books of the season.
Posted October 31, 2006
I've read several reviews, here and elsewhere, prior to writing mine and it appears that many reviewers (specifically the negative ones) are missing the thrust of this book. This is a work that blends standard history - which relies on factual primary and secondary sources to attempt to establish facts on the ground - and intellectual history - which is a discipline that attempts to divine the thoughts of actors through an examination of their cultural and educational milieu combined with their actual statements. Both disciplines are legitimate and there are historical situations where they can not be reconciled, but in many cases the two disciplines can illuminate one another to provide a foundation for a theory which answers the salient questions about key historical events. This is one such case. To begin, many reviewers claim an entire lack of evidence for Tom Carhart's theory among the facts of the battle (to be clear, the theory is that Lee planned a three-pronged attack on Meade's positions of which Picket's Charge was only one piece and the key to its success was an attack by Stuart's cavalry, and attached units, on the rear of Meade's position both at Culp's Hill and the clump of trees on Cemetary Ridge). I'm not certain which reviewers actually read the book versus which didn't, but it is simply not true to claim there is 'no' actual historical evidence of such a theory. Mr. Carhart notes it in his work several times, for example: 1. he cites Stuart's after-action review which stated that he hoped to strike the Union rear 2. he cites Lee's reported comments to Imboden the evening of July 3 (in my mind the best evidence) in which Lee states that Picket's Charge was not supported as it ought to have been and he didn't know why when the only battlefield commander left to debrief was Stuart - therefore, Stuart would be the only source to provide the answer to why Picket's Charge wasn't 'supported ' and 3. he cites McClellan's comments about Stuart's multiple firing of one gun and McClellan's statement that no one knew what Stuart was doing, though McClellan though it may have been a signal to Lee (one reviewer said this was nonsense as it had to have taken place during the artillery barrage on Cemetary Ridge and therefore Lee couldn't have heard it - interesting that such an obvious problem wouldn't occurr to McClellan, who was actually there - in other words, if McClellan thought it a signal of some kind to Lee, then the artillery barrage on Cemetary Ridge could not have been happening yet since McClellan would, actually being there, have known it couldn't be heard - therefore, logically, it had to have occurred prior to the barrage) - another negative reviwer pointed out that he tracked down McClellan as the source of this idea - also interesting since Mr. Carhart cites McClellan as his source so he shouldn't have had to track down anything - it makes me wonder if he even read the book. These three items are cited from primary sources (and there are others in the book) which are generally considered the best form of historical evidence for facts on the ground. It is true that there is a huge mass of primary material dealing with Gettysburg and that these are very small pieces of that mass - and such a fact could lead one to accuse Mr. Carhart of 'cherry-picking' his facts (though I think that claim would be innaccurate based on the intellectual history portion of the work), but it is simply untrue to claim there are 'no' facts cited to support his theory. The intellectual history portion is critical to this work. It examines the theoretical aspect of General Lee and his commanders to try and divine what they planned. It is true that Lee refused, almost entirely, to discuss battles post-action - it is also true that he was notoriously close-mouthed about his plans. To expect enlightenment from Lee directly for posterity's sake is to misunderstand the man, Lee. What Mr. Carhart does is examine the professionaWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 14, 2006
I must say point blank that civil war readers should read this book. Simply put when you finish this book you will have a far better view of what happened at Gettysburg on July 3rd 1863. I've have read at least 10 books on this battle, and been to the battlefield 5 times, and I'm teling you this book has hit the nail on the head about what General Robert E. Lee was trying to accomplish by giving the order to his troops to charge across that field. People when you have finished this book and put it down it will leave you thinking....Yea that explains what Lee really had in mind on that day, and why he could not pull it off.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 24, 2005
'Lost Triumph' is a wonderful read! It is orginal in it's thesis, cogent, and well researched. Through careful analysis Dr. Carhart reveals not only what Lee's full battle plan must have been, but why it failed. The book also explains in detail why Custer really did save the day, and deserves much credit. READ THIS BOOK! You won't be able to put it down until it's finished, and you will finally understand what really happened at Gettysburg.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 28, 2005
James McPherson is correct. Tom Carhart has written a provocative argument for Lee's 'Real Plan' at Gettysburg. His in-deph analysis of the charges of George Custer is convincingly documented and presented well. I have given copies to two of my friends who are Civil War authors. They have long argued that more research needed to be done on those critical days at Gettysburg. They are thrilled with Dr. Carhart's scholarship and the opportunity it affords them to broaded their debates on the 'lost triumph'.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 11, 2005
After 142 years of common belief that Robert E. Lee's battlefield brilliance had somehow failed him in the decisive battle of Gettysburg, Tom Carhart, a West Pointer and noted historian who knows firsthand the blood and guts and chaos of war as a combat soldier in Viet Nam, has remarkably broken the code and now rewrites history so that we might finally understand what really happened there.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.