New book on Lee. Would you read it?

Ct Yank

Cadet
Joined
Jan 20, 2021
Location
Marlborough, CT
Guelzo gives Thomas Connelly a run for his money as the most severe Lee critic around, trying to make a name for himself as the anti-Lee. No thanks. Guelzo is a pompous a_ _.

In my opinion, Lee was the most successful general of the Civil War, despite his mistakes at Malvern Hill and Gettysburg day 3. New 'scholarship' that tries to knock Lee off his pedestal has no value to me.
 

JeffBrooks

Sergeant Major
Joined
Aug 20, 2009
Location
Manor, TX
Yes, I'll read it. I think that it's important to expose oneself to all sides. To read only what one agrees with is limiting to the same old, same old.
I agree. I always try to read material that supports the exact opposite position to the one I hold, keeping as open a mind as possible. If I find them unconvincing, I can feel more confident that my position was right all along.
 

Belfoured

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Aug 3, 2019
I agree. I always try to read material that supports the exact opposite position to the one I hold, keeping as open a mind as possible. If I find them unconvincing, I can feel more confident that my position was right all along.
That's the crucial point. Refusing to read a book because you may end up disagreeing with it is a guarantee of remaining in the dark. First off, you're making a decision solely based on some general reputation and blurbs. That's a bad start. I read as much as I can get my hands on in areas that interest me. Case in point: McClellan. I have some pretty entrenched views about him based on a lot of sources and study- but I've actually revised some of those as they relate to his handling of things after Antietam. That's based on some recent work by Steven Stotelmyer and Tom Clemens. If I hadn't read those I'd be missing out.
 

Ct Yank

Cadet
Joined
Jan 20, 2021
Location
Marlborough, CT
Curious by what criteria you use to define Lee as the "most successful."
As an army commander, it would be battlefield victories, while also taking into account the resources they had to work with. It would also incorporate the judgment of which general gave their country the best chance to win independence (Confederates) or put down the rebellion (Union).

Based on that, there is no one on the Confederate side who compares as Beauregard (1st Bull Run) and Bragg (Chickamauga) are the only other Reb generals to lead their army to a battlefield victory. Those were singular successes for each of those generals.

For the Union, Grant is the obvious choice to challenge Lee. But, were it not for reinforcement from Buell's army at Shiloh, his army could very well have been destroyed and that would have been the end for him. He did have 3 armies surrender to his forces at Ft. Donelson, Vicksburg, and Appomattox. The first occurrence was utter incompetence from the opposing general; the second was a brilliant campaign by Grant, no doubt; the third was Grant using his overwhelming preponderance of manpower, artillery, and supplies. If he had forced Lee's surrender while minimizing his troop losses, I would think differently. But the enormous casualties he sustained in the last year of the war against a malnourished and feebly supplied army was not the least bit impressive. The result was a foregone conclusion; the manner in which he achieved it was a ghastly operation.

Lee was greatly outnumbered in every one of his battles, as badly as 2-to-1 at Chancellorsville. Think about what would have happened had Lee had similar troop numbers and logistics in any of his campaigns.
 

Drew

Major
Joined
Oct 22, 2012
Joined
Dec 12, 2020
Il try sending it again

IMG_20211011_070841967.jpg
 

Fairfield

Sergeant Major
Member of the Month
Joined
Dec 5, 2019
No I have no interest at all. Quite honestly there are a bunch of very interesting folks that participated I would like to see a book on. Lincoln, Grant, Lee have all been done to death.
Perhaps that depends on your reason for reading these histories. If you want to learn about the statistics of Gettysburg, then yes--you're probably right. But if you wish for a clearer understanding of why, then you need to be catholic (small "c") in your research.

Why didn't General Lee get the retirement that @Kathy the history sleuth argues that he deserved? Why did he have to command at Gettysburg when he was ill (secondary question: why was there no one else?). To what degree was he a victim and to what degree was he the author of his own misfortune? Fascinating--and, because we may never know for sure, we need to read the speculations and conclusions of others.

You're right in stating that there are other very interesting people who ought to be studied. A handful of men didn't fight the War on their own: there was a "supporting cast" and some of their activities were instrumental. For example, I'd like to read more about John Channing, a captain, who found himself as senior officer of the 7th Maine--in the midst of battle (surely there's a story there!). I think that you might enjoy A Place Worse Than Hell (John Matteson) which discusses the impact of (and by) Fredeicksburg on 5 non-General individuals.
 

Belfoured

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Aug 3, 2019
No I have no interest at all. Quite honestly there are a bunch of very interesting folks that participated I would like to see a book on. Lincoln, Grant, Lee have all been done to death.
Now that's a different - and very reasonable - point. I admit to not having read some of the recent Grant biographies. Same goes for Sherman. Even George Thomas is getting there. There's only so much time and so much shelf-room. Meanwhile, somebody like Hooker, who had an outsized role, hasn't been revisited in 70 years. I suspect a lot of it is marketing. It's like the conflict simulation realm. I can slap Gettysburg or Eastern Front on a box cover and get 500 pre-orders in a week.
 
Joined
Dec 12, 2020
Perhaps that depends on your reason for reading these histories. If you want to learn about the statistics of Gettysburg, then yes--you're probably right. But if you wish for a clearer understanding of why, then you need to be catholic (small "c") in your research.

Why didn't General Lee get the retirement that @Kathy the history sleuth argues that he deserved? Why did he have to command at Gettysburg when he was ill (secondary question: why was there no one else?). To what degree was he a victim and to what degree was he the author of his own misfortune? Fascinating--and, because we may never know for sure, we need to read the speculations and conclusions of others.

You're right in stating that there are other very interesting people who ought to be studied. A handful of men didn't fight the War on their own: there was a "supporting cast" and some of their activities were instrumental. For example, I'd like to read more about John Channing, a captain, who found himself as senior officer of the 7th Maine--in the midst of battle (surely there's a story there!). I think that you might enjoy A Place Worse Than Hell (John Matteson) which discusses the impact of (and by) Fredeicksburg on 5 non-General individuals.
The Matteson book is excellent.
 
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