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Victors in Blue: How Union Generals Fought the Confederates, Battled Each Other, and Won the Civil War

Overview

Make no mistake, the Confederacy had the will and valor to fight. But the Union had the manpower, the money, the materiel, and, most important, the generals. Although the South had arguably the best commander in the Civil War in Robert E. Lee, the North's full house beat their one-of-a-kind. Flawed individually, the Union's top officers nevertheless proved collectively superior across a diverse array of battlefields and ultimately produced a victory for the Union.

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Overview

Make no mistake, the Confederacy had the will and valor to fight. But the Union had the manpower, the money, the materiel, and, most important, the generals. Although the South had arguably the best commander in the Civil War in Robert E. Lee, the North's full house beat their one-of-a-kind. Flawed individually, the Union's top officers nevertheless proved collectively superior across a diverse array of battlefields and ultimately produced a victory for the Union.

Now acclaimed author Albert Castel brings his inimitable style, insight, and wit to a new reconsideration of these generals. With the assistance of Brooks Simpson, another leading light in this field, Castel has produced a remarkable capstone volume to a distinguished career. In it, he reassesses how battles and campaigns forged a decisive Northern victory, reevaluates the generalship of the victors, and lays bare the sometimes vicious rivalries among the Union generals and their effect on the war.

From Shiloh to the Shenandoah, Chickamauga to Chattanooga, Castel provides fresh accounts of how the Union commanders—especially Grant, Sherman, Sheridan, Thomas, and Meade but also Halleck, Schofield, and Rosecrans—outmaneuvered and outfought their Confederate opponents. He asks of each why he won: Was it through superior skill, strength of arms, enemy blunders, or sheer chance? What were his objectives and how did he realize them? Did he accomplish more or less than could be expected under the circumstances? And if less, what could he have done to achieve more-and why did he not do it? Castel also sheds new light on the war within the war: the intense rivalries in the upper ranks, complicated by the presence in the army of high-ranking non-West Pointers with political wagons attached to the stars on their shoulders.

A decade in the writing, Victors in Blue brims with novel, even outrageous interpretations that are sure to stir debate. As certain as the Union achieved victory, it will inform, provoke, and enliven sesquicentennial discussions of the Civil War.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The quality of generalship remained a critical factor, and Castel offers a five-point summary of his method of assessing generalship, which is itself a useful analytical tool for students of the Civil War.—Civil War Monitor

"Castel is at his best in providing concise interpretations of his subjects' strengths and weaknesses, offering balanced portraits."—Army History

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780700617937
  • Publisher: University Press of Kansas
  • Publication date: 11/8/2011
  • Pages: 374
  • Sales rank: 1,096,119
  • Product dimensions: 6.50 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Albert Castel is the author of numerous books, including the Lincoln Prize-winning Decision in the West: The Atlanta Campaign of 1864; Tom Taylor's Civil War; and Civil War Kansas: Reaping the Whirlwind. Brooks D. Simpson is professor of history at Arizona State University and the author of Ulysses S. Grant: Triumph over Adversity, 1822-1865; Let Us Have Peace: Ulysses S. Grant and the Politics of War and Reconstruction, 1861-1868; and The Reconstruction Presidents.

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Table of Contents

List of Maps and Illustrations

Preface

Prologue: On Judging Civil War Generals

1. Rosecrans in West Virginia: A Tale of a Goose, a Dog, and a Fox

2. Grant in Missouri and Tennessee: A Tale of How a Nobody Became a Somebody

3. Grant, Halleck, and a Failure to Communicate

4. Grant at Shiloh: How to Win by Not Losing

5. Grant Advances by Staying Put

6. Nobody at Antietam

7. Grant and Rosecrans at Iuka and Corinth: The Birth of a Rivalry

8. Rosecrans at Stones River: How a New Disaster Became a Much-Needed Union Victory

9. Meade at Gettysburg: How to Win by Staying Put

10. Grant Victorious at Vicksburg: How to Win By Causing Your Enemies to Defeat Themselves

11. Rosecrans Takes Chattanooga and Grant Takes a Fall

12. Rosecrans and Thomas at Chickamauga: The Fortunes and Misfortunes of War

13. Grant at Chattanooga: How to Win a Battle Contrary to Plan

14. While Grant Fails to Defeat Lee, Sherman Invades Georgia: Circling around to Move Forward

15. Grant Remains Stymied, Sherman Takes Atlanta: Decision in the West

16. Sheridan in the Shenandoah

17. Sherman Marches to the Sea, Schofield Repulses Hood, and Thomas Vanquishes Hood at Nashville

18. Death Blows: Grant, Sheridan, and Sherman Win the War, but the Union Generals Fight On

Epilogue: The Victors in Blue—Who and Why

Notes

Index

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