Last Chance For Victory: Robert E. Lee And The Gettysburg Campaign

Last Chance For Victory: Robert E. Lee And The Gettysburg Campaign

by Scott Bowden, Bill Ward


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Last Chance For Victory: Robert E. Lee And The Gettysburg Campaign by Scott Bowden, Bill Ward

Long after nearly fifty thousand soldiers shed their blood there, serious misunderstandings persist about Robert E. Lee's generalship at Gettysburg. What were Lee's choices before, during, and after the battle? What did he know that caused him to act as he did? Last Chance for Victory addresses these issues by studying Lee's decisions and the military intelligence he possessed when each was made. Packed with new information and original research, Last Chance for Victory draws alarming conclusions to complex issues with precision and clarity. Readers will never look at Robert E. Lee and Gettysburg the same way again.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780306812613
Publisher: Da Capo Press
Publication date: 05/16/2003
Pages: 640
Sales rank: 561,115
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 1.00(h) x 10.00(d)

About the Author

Scott Bowden is an award-winning author of twenty- two books on Napoleonic and American military history. He lives in Arlington, Texas.

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Last Chance for Victory: Robert E. Lee and the Gettysburg Campaign 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a great book for civil war buffs from all thoughts about gettysburg to read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Thoughtful and honest. This reappraisal of Lee and the challenges he encountered in Pennsylvania flies in the face of recent revisionists who have sullied Lee's reputation and looked to degrade his battlefield judgements. Faced with overwhelming challenges, this tome clarifies Lee's logical suggestions that the Confederacy's existence and eventual survival required a plan of extraordinary agressiveness. Following success at Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville, coupled with the necessity that the theatre of battle be transferred onto northern soil, Lee recommended accurately that pressure needed to be applied in an offensive action beyond Virginia soil. The authors of this wonderful book clearly state the case for this reasoning and follow up throughout the ensuing days of struggle with a keen eye for military tactics and strategy. Above all, they present a cogent understanding of the decisions that Lee made as events unfolded. For a marvelous understanding of the truth of Lee's objectives and decisions there is no better narrative available. Those who seek to disparage Lee's battlefield judgements are urged to read this well documented and convincing account that reaffirms Lee's status as one of America's most revered and effective Generals. Highly recommended!
Guest More than 1 year ago
The authors have discussed Lee's decisions in a different context. They have written a book which is easy to follow. I was very impressed with their discussion of the attack 'en echelon' on July 2 and their description of the night attack on East Cemetery Hill on that same date during which the Brigades under the tactical command of Gen. Harry Hays captured the most important piece of terrain on the entire battlefield(and waited for support which never came).
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Without question, this is great Civil War history, and for those who want to really know about the Confederate side of the battle, no book comes close to this one in analyzing Robert E. Lee at Gettysburg. A terrific, insightful work.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I bought a copy of what is now the original edition of the book, and thoroughly enjoyed it. When time came to buy Christmas presents, I bought several copies, and found these to be the revised, new edition (with the starburst on the cover, announcing that the book had won the 2001 Douglas Southall Freeman History Award). In reading the new edition, I was delighted that the internal 'blemishes' in editing were now corrected, and have just finished re-reading the book again---for the third time. DO NOT miss this saga about Robert E. Lee at Gettysburg. Insightful and provocative, it will make you think---and then think some more. What I have learned more than anything from studying the text is how so many previous writers have got so much about Lee dead wrong! Because this book is so much more than a retelling of a story---indeed, it is a book containing lots of analysis---it is a must read for anyone interested in Robert E. Lee.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've read many, many books about the American Civil War over the years, but none of them have left the lasting impression on me like 'Last Chance for Victory: Robert E. Lee and the Gettysburg Campaign.' It has always been a puzzle to me how General Robert E. Lee - seemingly invincible on every battlefield - has been consistently characterized by historians as 'not himself' at Gettysburg. The authors of 'Last Chance for Victory' have done an exhaustive study on just what General Lee was attempting to do on his march North in 1863, and why his masterful battlefield plans didn't succeed July 1-3. It all makes sense to me now, and I can only look upon previous historical works that were critical of General Lee at Gettysburg with skepticism. All future literature on the generalship of Robert E. Lee should take pains to restore him to the status as one of the Great Captains of History. This latest book on the Battle of Gettysburg has surely done just that.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The authors of 'Last Chance for Victory Robert E. Lee and the Gettysburg Campaign' have provided a very enlightening and extremely well researched investigation into the Battle of Gettysburg.

They successfully debunk the widespread belief that Lee's orders to Ewell on the first day of the battle to take Cemetery Hill south of Gettysburg were discretionary. The order was not at all left up to Ewell's choice but rather was worded in a manner commonly seen among southern gentlemen of the time who considered their relationship cordial.

The orders issued by both Lee and Longstreet to J.E.B. Stuart prior to his ill-fated 'ride' are also deeply examined, and with good reason. Lee's orders to Stuart, when examined in consideration of the exact position of the Army of Northern Virginia and the understood position of the Army of the Potomac were neither ambiguous nor open to interpretation by Stuart. This is critical to understanding the failures of the Confederate Army in the campaign.

The authors also appropriately credit Lee for making correct tactical decisions on the scene that were not always followed-through by his subordinates. However, the authors tend to cloud the issue with references and comparisons to Napoleon's professional staff officers and how inadequate staffing prevented Lee's orders from always being complied-with during the fog of battle. While it is undeniable that Lee could have benefited from a larger staff to see that his orders were carried out as issued, he might very well have benefited even more from a population base comparable to that of early 19th century France from which to draw a professional soldier class, and the time to develop and refine such a pool of staffers! The list of things that Lee didn't have in 1863 that could have helped him may be endless, and to spend time in the book's discourse dwelling on this one deficiency tends to temporarily distract the reader from the real issues.

The book also resembles in some ways the second American Civil War of the post-1865 years, fought with the pen instead of firearms, in that Bowden and Ward assail a number of other Gettysburg historians in their assertions and analysis (though I do agree with Bowden and Ward on most of the issues).

Finally, while it does not detract from the content of the book's historical insight, the composition is badly in need of a good proof-reading. There are numerous grammatical errors, what appear to be sentence fragments, and flaws in punctuation that tend to make the effort look a bit rushed. Nevertheless, this is an excellent study of the pivotal battle of the American Civil War and should be on the read-list of every Civil War history enthusiast.