Stonewall Jackson's Shenandoah Valley campaign of 1862 was one of the most impressive in the history of warfare. With a force of 17,000, he was able tStonewall Jackson's Shenandoah Valley campaign of 1862 was one of the most impressive in the history of warfare. With a force of 17,000, he was able to confuse, confine, and defeat three separate yankee armies, totaling 60,000 men, which drew much needed forces away from McClellan just as he was preparing to launch his attack on Richmond. Jackson explained his strategy thusly: "Always mystify, mislead, and surprise the enemy, if possible. And when you strike and overcome him, never let up in the pursuit so long as your men have strength to follow; for an army routed, if hotly pursued, becomes panic stricken, and can then be destroyed by half their number. The other rule is, never fight against heavy odds if by any possible maneuvering you can hurl your own force on only a part, and that the weakest part, of your enemy and crush it. Such tactics will win every time, and a small army may thus destroy a large one in detail, and repeated victory will make it invincible."...more
A bit more non-linear and sporadic than his previous volumes, it is just as thorough and insightful as the others. I've always wondered how "Fightin'A bit more non-linear and sporadic than his previous volumes, it is just as thorough and insightful as the others. I've always wondered how "Fightin' Joe" Hooker, with 120,000 troops, could lose to Lee's 60,000 at Chancellorsville. Foote does a decent job of explaining this issue. Part of it was Jackson's brilliance of maneuver, and the other part was Hooker's loss of nerve. ...more
The best of Foote's narrative thus far, this book manages to provide a more thorough account of the Battle of Gettysburg than almost any other work avThe best of Foote's narrative thus far, this book manages to provide a more thorough account of the Battle of Gettysburg than almost any other work available. The common consensus, based on The Killer Angels, focuses so heavily on Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain's role, because of the 20th Maine's bayonet charge down Little Round Top, that we lose sight of other critical actors. Foote points out that the charge was almost superfluous at the point it was executed, because Col Oates had already been denied reinforcements by Gen Hood, and was preparing to withdraw. If there was a hero involved in the defense of Little Round Top, it was Gen Gouverneur K. Warren, a staff Brigadier who, realizing the key ground was undefended, brought up the nearest force he could find just in time for Hood's assault. Other "unsung" heroes include the 1st Minnesota, which plunged headfirst into the breach in the Union line on the second day, suffering a 95% casualty rate, but buying enough time for additional troops to be brought in for the defense of Cemetery Ridge. Likewise, Gen Buford's cavalry brigade (armed with breach loading rifles) held off a Confederate division on the first day while waiting for Reynolds' corps to arrive in support.
Reading Foote's account, the real hero of Gettysburg is Winfield Scott Hancock. He was the one who, despite being ranked by Howard, organized the defense of Cemetery Hill on the first day, which was the foundation of the entire Union position throughout the battle. He was the one who defended Cemetery Ridge on the second day when Sickles' line was breached. He was the one whose corps repelled Pickett's Charge on the third day, due in large part to his innovation and motivating presence. ...more
An interesting look at a largely unknown figure. Was Brown a terrorist? Yes. Was he wrong? Perhaps in style, but few today would argue substance. TheAn interesting look at a largely unknown figure. Was Brown a terrorist? Yes. Was he wrong? Perhaps in style, but few today would argue substance. The author draws an interesting line (based on the stated beliefs of Frederick Douglas) from Brown's raid and death, to Lincoln's election, and ultimately slavery's demise. Of course, if one sympathizes with Brown, then how would they view modern suicide bombers, who similarly give their lives for their religious convictions? This book poses many interesting questions....more