Shenandoah 1862: Stonewall Jackson's Valley Campaignby Peter Cozzens
One of the most intriguing and storied episodes of the Civil War, the 1862 Shenandoah Valley Campaign has heretofore been related only from the Confederate point of view. Moving seamlessly between tactical details and analysis of strategic significance, Peter Cozzens presents a balanced, comprehensive account of a campaign that has long been romanticized but little
One of the most intriguing and storied episodes of the Civil War, the 1862 Shenandoah Valley Campaign has heretofore been related only from the Confederate point of view. Moving seamlessly between tactical details and analysis of strategic significance, Peter Cozzens presents a balanced, comprehensive account of a campaign that has long been romanticized but little understood. He offers new interpretations of the campaign and the reasons for Stonewall Jackson's success, demonstrates instances in which the mythology that has come to shroud the campaign has masked errors on Jackson's part, and provides the first detailed appraisal of Union leadership in the Valley Campaign, with some surprising conclusions.
Cozzens (The Darkest Days of the War) is an independent scholar and a master of Civil War military history at tactical and operational levels. He deploys a large body of unfamiliar primary material in this detailed analysis of a campaign less one-sided than the accepted view that it represented Union blundering and the triumph of Confederate planning and execution signaling the emergence of one of history's great generals, Stonewall Jackson. Without debunking Jackson, Cozzens describes a commander still learning his craft. Jackson's obsession with keeping his strategic intention to himself too often left his subordinates confused. As a tactician he tended to commit his forces piecemeal. The Union generals opposing him performed reasonably well in the context of divided command, inadequate logistics and constant micromanaging by Abraham Lincoln. In particular the president's concern for Washington's safety led him to withhold troops from McClellan's Peninsular Campaign-a decision Cozzens reasonably says enhanced McClellan's natural caution. Jackson's victories revitalized a Confederacy whose morale was at its lowest after a string of Union victories. The South now had a new hero, whose personal idiosyncrasies and overt religiosity only enhanced his appeal. 13 illus., 13 maps. (Oct. 10)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
The Shenandoah Valley campaign of 1862, in which Confederate Gen. Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson's troops managed to prevent the much larger Union armies from reinforcing and capturing Richmond, has received numerous book-length treatments, either on its component battles (e.g., Robert Krick's Conquering the Valley: Stonewall Jackson at Port Republic) or, as here, on the full campaign (e.g., Robert Tanner's Stonewall in the Valley). Generally, the books have focused on Stonewall Jackson and the Confederate viewpoint. Here, however, Cozzens (The Darkest Days of the War: The Battles of Iuka and Corinth), a Foreign Service officer with the U.S. Department of State, presents a compelling chronological and bilateral narrative of the entire campaign from March to June 1862. Using primary-source materials from both sides, Cozzens offers new interpretations of the campaign and of Stonewall Jackson's legendary success, which was not nearly as brilliant as it appeared but was as much the result of Union failure as the triumph of Southern arms heralded in the press at the time. Jackson's errors are covered here, as are those of a succession of Union commanders, all really learning their trade in these early stages of the war. Sure to become the standard work on the campaign, this book is strongly recommended for all collections.
David Lee Poremba
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Meet the Author
Peter Cozzens is an independent scholar and Foreign Service officer with the U.S. Department of State. He is author or editor of nine highly acclaimed Civil War books, including The Darkest Days of the War: The Battles of Iuka and Corinth.
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Peter Cozzens established his reputation as an author with a series of excellent western battle histories. Now he turns his attention to one of the classic campaigns in America's military history. "Stonewall" Jackson's Shenandoah Valley Campaign is one of the best examples of what a smaller determined force can accomplish. The Robert G. Tanner and Gary W. Gallagher produced excellent campaign studies and Gary L. Ecelbarger is doing excellent work on individual battles. Tanner's book has long been considered the "standard work" by which all other books are judged. I am not ready to dethrone Tanner but I feel this is a real challenger for the title of best campaign study. This is a detailed history, omitting nothing of importance and including most of the smaller details that make history interesting. This is not a dry, detailed account that plods on page after dreary page. Cozzens' lively style combines first person accounts with his considerable skill as a storyteller. The result is a history unfolding as it happened, imparting the urgency the participants felt to the reader. We know the story BUT we always understand how limited their knowledge was at the time. This ability makes bad decisions understandable and it shows the problem with doing nothing. General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson is one of the pivotal figures of the early war. Lionized by many, he became a mythic heroic saintly leader. Cozzens gives us a very human Jackson. He is a complex person completely committed to the cause. He is a harsh taskmaster, prone to snap judgments and unforgiving. This portrait is neither unflattering nor idolizing. It seems to be completely honest, presenting the good and bad points that all men have. N. P. Banks is a mixed bag, with some very good points as a person but a poor general. He is given a fair treatment that refused to make him a fool or a hero. Freemont is himself, vain, a poor general and a fool. The portrayal is what he was and nothing can change that. The treatment of Lincoln and Stanton is fair. While condemned for overreacting the author recognizes they lost sight of what was important and concentrated on a secondary front. The handling of Garnett is excellent. The "reasons" Jackson found for the charges are well covered. This includes the personality problems and differences in what they saw as the role of second in command. The full story of the court martial and political maneuvers is not detailed within the book. The writing is excellent. Battles are detailed, well covered and very understandable. The reader has no problems understanding why a position must be held or taken. The author's conclusions are well presented and quite good. My only problem with this book is the maps. First, they were not completely proofed. Units in the battle are misidentified on the map. Second, maps need to be placed where they are needed. A map of the midpoint of a battle should not be placed at the start of the story. Likewise, one map cannot cover multiple unit positions with no indication of movement. I found this to be a constant problem when trying to follow the battle on the map. However, this is not a reason to bypass this excellent book. I feel this will become a classic account of this campaign. The book is informative and fun to read.
"Shenandoah 1862 struck me as one of the finest and most necessary Civil War campaign studies to appear in decades. It is the first balanced work on this important and misunderstood campaigns; that is, the first to tell the story of the campaign from both sides. The sole other modern work on the Shenandoah Valley campaign was Robert Tanner's 1976 book, Stonewall in the Valley. He presented the campaign solely from the Confederate perspective. You cannot tell the story of a campaign one dimensionally. Exciting conclusions about Jackson's performance and the impact of the campaign emerge from Cozzens' research; conclusions that convincingly refute most of what has been said of the Valley campaign in the past. I must also emphasize Cozzens' marvelous writing style. He is perhaps the only Civil War historian whose work rises to the level of literature.
Extremely well written! Cozzens is thorough and complete in his research. He writes of who did what and where. He shows Jackson in a manner not done by most authors. If you like reading about the boys from Ohio and Virginia at their very best in the field as they faced each other, here it is. Magnificently well done!