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A Glorious Army: Robert E. Lee's Triumph, 1862-1863
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A Glorious Army: Robert E. Lee's Triumph, 1862-1863

3.4 5
by Jeffry D. Wert
 

A Glorious Army explains why Lee succeeded in the context of a narrative history of the 13 months when it seemed the Confederates might prevail.

Overview


A Glorious Army explains why Lee succeeded in the context of a narrative history of the 13 months when it seemed the Confederates might prevail.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Acclaimed Civil War historian Wert (Cavalryman of the Lost Cause: A Biography of J.E.B. Stuart), who has written extensively on both Robert E. Lee's army and the Union's Army of the Potomac, brings his lucid literary skills and keen analysis to a close examination of Lee's military character and conduct during the most successful period of his generalship. Wert argues that Lee became an aggressive general in his strategy and tactics as he recognized that the South could not survive a protracted war and needed to win convincingly in the field because of his own psychological understanding of war and his belief in the invincibility of his soldiers. Wert shows how Lee's aggressiveness succeeded in the field, even against great odds, but ultimately undermined the offensive killing power of his army owing to high battlefield losses. Sloppy intelligence, a tired general, confusing orders, and other factors led to Lee's defeat at Gettysburg, thus shifting the strategic initiative to the Union. VERDICT Wert's book is a page-turner and an essential read for both Civil War history fans and scholars and a work to ponder in terms of the ways self-perceptions inform policy and chance as much as design decides military destiny.—Randall M. Miller, Saint Joseph's Univ., Philadelphia
Kirkus Reviews

A Civil War specialist revisits the glory days of one of the most splendid fighting forces ever assembled: the Army of Northern Virginia (ANV).

After the bitter defeat at Gettysburg, the Confederate army, its officer corps severely depleted, never regained the momentum it had achieved since June 1862 when Robert E. Lee assumed command. But what a run they had. At the Seven Days, Second Manassas, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville and even the bloody stalemate at Antietam, the ANV fashioned a brilliant string of military successes that changed the course of the war in the East. In the process, Lee and his gallant army came to embody the Southern cause, keeping alive the possibility against long odds that the Confederacy might survive. Assessing the ANV's legacy, Wert (Cavalryman of the Lost Cause: A Biography of J.E.B. Stuart, 2008, etc.) eschews the tick-tock of battle in favor of analysis of the big-picture, how the army was led and how the rank and file responded. Nimbly sifting the oftentimes conflicting judgments of a wide array of historians and making vivid use of primary source documents, the author demonstrates how everything—the good and the bad—began with Lee. He immediately reorganized and disciplined the army, improved communications, delegated broad authority to his senior commanders, particularly the steady, reliable James Longstreet and the eccentric, audacious Stonewall Jackson, and relied on a talented cadre of brigade and regimental officers to implement his relentlessly aggressive battle plans. Convinced the South could never prevail relying on a passive, defensive strategy, Lee constantly took the fight to the enemy, even as the battlefield victories bled his forces. Wert covers it all—the blunders, the exceptional maneuvers, the irreparable losses, all the exquisitely difficult choices facing a general whose bold calculations always prevailed until, finally, they didn't.

An energetic, evenhanded assessment that gets at the heart of Lee's genius and the heroic achievements of the army he so ably led.

From the Publisher
"Wert succeeds admirably in his quest to provide a fresh perspective on Lee's virtues as the commander of the South's most prominent army."

—Col. Cole C. Kingseed (USA-Ret.), Army

A Civil War specialist revisits the glory days of one of the most splendid fighting forces ever assembled: the Army of Northern Virginia (ANV).

After the bitter defeat at Gettysburg, the Confederate army, its officer corps severely depleted, never regained the momentum it had achieved since June 1862 when Robert E. Lee assumed command. But what a run they had. At the Seven Days, Second Manassas, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville and even the bloody stalemate at Antietam, the ANV fashioned a brilliant string of military successes that changed the course of the war in the East. In the process, Lee and his gallant army came to embody the Southern cause, keeping alive the possibility against long odds that the Confederacy might survive. Assessing the ANV’s legacy, Wert (Cavalryman of the Lost Cause: A Biography of J.E.B. Stuart, 2008, etc.) eschews the tick-tock of battle in favor of analysis of the big-picture, how the army was led and how the rank and file responded. Nimbly sifting the oftentimes conflicting judgments of a wide array of historians and making vivid use of primary source documents, the author demonstrates how everything—the good and the bad—began with Lee. He immediately reorganized and disciplined the army, improved communications, delegated broad authority to his senior commanders, particularly the steady, reliable James Longstreet and the eccentric, audacious Stonewall Jackson, and relied on a talented cadre of brigade and regimental officers to implement his relentlessly aggressive battle plans. Convinced the South could never prevail relying on a passive, defensive strategy, Lee constantly took the fight to the enemy, even as the battlefield victories bled his forces. Wert covers it all—the blunders, the exceptional maneuvers, the irreparable losses, all the exquisitely difficult choices facing a general whose bold calculations always prevailed until, finally, they didn’t.

An energetic, evenhanded assessment that gets at the heart of Lee’s genius and the heroic achievements of the army he so ably led.

Kirkus Reviews

"Acclaimed Civil War historian Wert, who has written extensively on both Robert E. Lee's army and the Union's Army of the Potomac, brings his lucid literary skills and keen analysis to a close examination of Lee's military character and conduct during the most successful period of his generalship. . . . Wert's book is a page-turner and an essential read for both Civil War history fans and scholars."

Library Journal (starred review)

"With admirable skill and flair, Jeffry D. Wert addresses the historic standing of General Lee. . . . Lee is well served by Wert's eloquent and judicious study."

—Philip Terzian, The Weekly Standard

"Wert's prose is accessible and clear. . . . These battle-by-battle accounts, along with his carefully judged opinions backed up by quoting from diaries and letters at the time or memoirs written later and other sources, will delight mostly those who savor every twist and turn of battle. . . . Wert's judgments are sober and convincing."

—Michael Giltz, Huffington Post

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781416593348
Publisher:
Simon & Schuster
Publication date:
04/05/2011
Pages:
400
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.30(d)

Meet the Author

Jeffrey D. Wert is the author of eight previous books on Civil War topics, most recently Cavalryman of the Lost Cause and The Sword of Lincoln. His articles and essays on the Civil War have appeared in many publications, including Civil War Times Illustrated, American History Illustrated, and Blue and Gray. A former history teacher at Penns Valley High School, he lives in Centre Hall, Pennsylvania, slightly more than one hour from the battlefield at Gettysburg.

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Glorious Army 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
James_Durney More than 1 year ago
Robert E. Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia occupy a special place in both our history and mythology. For many, this is the American Civil War. Either glorify or demonize, the man and his army are the subject of a library full of books. Jeffery Wert is no stranger as he steps fearlessly into this arena. Books on this subject can draw fire from both sides, placing an author in the middle of an ongoing battle. Wert has an almost lyrical style that is equally informative and fun to read. While not terse, he tells the story without unnecessary words. Add an ability to use respected historians, original sources with his intelligent observations make for an excellent book. This history covers the time from Lee assuming command outside of Richmond to Gettysburg, an oft-told tale that Wert tells in a fresh vigorous way. This is not a detailed slog through battles, army politics and supply problems. This is not a detailed tactical study of the battles. This is a very solid overview of the months when Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia became the embodiment of the Confederacy. The book maintains a real balance between detail and story. The level of detail adjusts to the needs of the story and never slows the story. This is very necessary, as these are busy months with multiple stories. We focus on the relationship between Lee, his officers and the men. On how they grow together and how they learn the limits of the other. This is not the mythic story but a hard honest look full of truth. The author maintains a balance between admiration and history. The myth is not allowed to take control but this is the foundation of the myth. Presentation of the battles is from the army perspective. Decisions and discussions are equal to the fighting and more important to our story. The result is a unique look at Lee, Longstreet & Jackson at work. We get a chance to see how Rhodes, Gordon, Early were able to prosper and how others failed. Physically this is an attractive book with usable maps and good illustrations. The book has a full set of endnotes, index and bibliography as expect in a serious history. Jeffery Wert is one of our best authors and this is one of his best books.
norman-holt More than 1 year ago
There are an almost countless number of books, monographs, pamphlets, speeches as well as documentaries and movies about the life of R.E.Lee. Mr. Wert's book is certainly a worthy part of the huge array of media coverage for this Virginian.