Which over-arching decisions made by the Confederacy or Union had a greater effect on the course of the war than generally thought? Were there lauded command changes that may not have been as beneficial as presumed? How intertwined were the business aspirations on both sides of the conflict and what role did disinformation play in key battles? In Lee’s Lost Dispatch and Other Civil War Controversies, New York Times “Disunion” contributor Philip Leigh presents twelve stories from these turbulent times that afford a better understanding of how the war unfolded and how it was fought. The stories range from the Union’s delayed introduction of repeating arms and why a commercial steamer and not a warship was sent to relieve Fort Sumter to how Robert E. Lee’s critical dispatch at the battle of Antietam may have been lost and whether Southern poverty is the most protracted legacy of the war. Written to promote discussion and debate, this volume will intrigue those who enjoy Civil War history and contemplating alternatives to many assumed conclusions.
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About the Author
PHILIP LEIGH is an independent scholar and regular contributor the New York Times “Disunion” series which commemorates the Civil War sesquicentennial. He holds a B.A. in electrical engineering from the Florida Institute of Technology and an M.B.A. from Northwestern University. He is the author of Trading with the Enemy: The Covert Economy During the American Civil War, also available from Westholme Publishing.
Table of Contents
Author's Note ix
1 The Biggest Confederate Error? 1
2 The Biggest Federal Error? 13
3 Preempting the Civil War 29
4 Treasury Innovations and Mischiefs 42
5 The Camelor Couple 58
6 The Burning of Atlanta 76
7 Choosing Sherman or Thomas 91
8 The Spring Hill Spies 112
9 Ghosts of the Lost Dispatch 131
10 Florida after Vicksburg 147
11 Lincoln and McClellan 159
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Biggest Confederate Error? Biggest Federal Error? Could the war have been preempted in January 1861? How many times was Atlanta burned? Should Thomas have been chosen over Sherman in Spring 1864? Eleven chapters focus upon controversies with a glace in the direction of alternate histories. Not far from the mind of the author is the question is 'if one thing had been changed'. Philip Leigh's Lee's Lost Dispatch and Other Civil War Controversies, Philip Leigh offers eleven episodes that challenge readers' understanding of the significance of particular turning points of the war. When contemplating alternatives to conventional conclusions and analyses, Leigh invites discussions and debates on the Confederacy's King Cotton diplomacy and fiscal policy, the Federal policy of breech loading and repeating rifles, Buchanan's choice of ships sent to relieve Fort Sumter, Salmon Chase's solutions to the Federal war debt and its relation to his daughter, her husband William Sprague, and money broker Jay Cooke. Several chapters take relatively new paths. How did Florida become so important to the Confederacy after Vicksburg surrendered in July 1863? In 1864 at Spring Hill Tennessee were Hood, Cheatman and Cleburne victims of behind-the-Confederate lines Union spies? Was Lincoln wrong to keep McDowell's 40,000 troops out of McClellan's hands in June 1862? Leigh suggests a logical change of one link in the chain of events and shows that much of the Civil War was contingent on a particular person reaching an ill-informed opinion or having a predisposition to dismiss information out-of-hand. Many readers approach the American Civil with the notion that 'it happened this way' and the causes-and-effects are immutable. Regarding reasonable possibilities, Leigh gently offers suggestions at the conclusion of most chapters. These brief remarks offers tips on how to handle evidence, primary documents, gaps in the records, and the possibility of variations of the well-worn path of most Civil War books written for the general audience. The narrative style Lee's Lost Dispatch and Other Civil War Controversies is clear and not complexly written. Most general readers will find it both easy to read and enjoyable to contemplate. Leigh's previous work Trading With The Enemy: The Covert Economy During the American Civil War was similarly accessible and eye-opening.