Shenandoah Valley 1864 Shenandoah Valley: Cozzens or Tanner?

51st Georgia

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I have both books on the 1862 Shenandoah Valley campaign. I just purchased Campaign:Shenandoah from John Tiller Games and want to read about the battles.

i know Cozzens Shenandoah 1862 is far more balanced than Tanner‘s Stonewall in the Valleys mostly Confederate perspective but I also know Cozzens has been taken to task for his revisionist portrait of Stonewall.

i am a Jackson fan and have no problem though reading either. I’m more interested in the Confederate perspective anyway, but don’t want to give any better understanding by just defaulting to Tanner.

what say you all.. which is the better volume?
 

Belfoured

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Aug 3, 2019
I have both books on the 1862 Shenandoah Valley campaign. I just purchased Campaign:Shenandoah from John Tiller Games and want to read about the battles.

i know Cozzens Shenandoah 1862 is far more balanced than Tanner‘s Stonewall in the Valleys mostly Confederate perspective but I also know Cozzens has been taken to task for his revisionist portrait of Stonewall.

i am a Jackson fan and have no problem though reading either. I’m more interested in the Confederate perspective anyway, but don’t want to give any better understanding by just defaulting to Tanner.

what say you all.. which is the better volume?
Cozzens by far. And his assessment of Jackson is actually balanced. There's the Stonewall of Mythology and then there's the real guy, who was strong at the operational level but fairly mediocre with battlefield tactics - see First Kernstown, McDowell, Port Republic, the Seven Days, Cedar Mountain. Brawner's Farm. Cozzens is no harder on Jackson than Ecelbarger or Krick in their battle narratives. FWIW, I think historians who look at things objectively find similarities between Jackson and Sherman. Sherman was terrific at the operational/strategic level but also was no superstar when it came to tactics on the battlefield. Bottom line - Cozzens is based on much more research and more sources than Tanner.
 

trice

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May 2, 2006
I have read the Tanner book. I have not read this Cozzens book, but have read several of his others.

I recall liking the Tanner book, but it was definitely written with a Confederate leaning. It is probably a bit dated by now (1976?)

I enjoyed Cozzens other work a lot. I would expect his Shenandoah book to be very well researched and more balanced in its' approach.

I have also read G. F. R. Henderson's work on Stonewall Jackson, which is very valuable for many reasons -- as long as you remind yourself constantly that Henderson never seems to find the slightest fault with Jackson. It certainly gives great insight into how a commander thinks (or should think) in the midst of campaign and battle.
 

James N.

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I have read the Tanner book. I have not read this Cozzens book, but have read several of his others.

I recall liking the Tanner book, but it was definitely written with a Confederate leaning. It is probably a bit dated by now (1976?)

I enjoyed Cozzens other work a lot. I would expect his Shenandoah book to be very well researched and more balanced in its' approach.

I have also read G. F. R. Henderson's work on Stonewall Jackson, which is very valuable for many reasons -- as long as you remind yourself constantly that Henderson never seems to find the slightest fault with Jackson. It certainly gives great insight into how a commander thinks (or should think) in the midst of campaign and battle.
A totally new and revised edition appeared in the 1990's; I have read both around the times they were published, plus Henderson, but still not Cozzens' book.
 

BrooksF

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I recently finished reading both the Cozzens and Tanner books. Read together I think they complement one another well. Cozzens presents the 1862 Shenandoah Valley campaign from both sides, lending to a more complete, some say more “balanced” history. Tanner’s substantially revised 2nd edition focuses almost entirely on the Confederate side, and in addition to tracing the operations, illuminates the top level command decisions ordered by Generals Johnston, Lee, and their interpretation in the field by Generals Jackson and Ewell. Tanner often concludes a chapter with analysis that I found helpful. Cozzens book has been described above as being better researched, but his focus is broader; Tanner has some 75 pages of notes, mostly primary sources, and I found his book more lively reading than workmanlike.

I found both eminently rewarding, and would recommend reading both, just as I would to someone interested in Gettysburg asking Coddington or Tucker.
 

Jamieva

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This is a good discussion when looking at multiple books on the same battle or campaign. I have read Cozzens books on the major western battles and I own this one, I just have not gotten to it yet. It's fairly large and knowing his style it is very detailed, but at times can be dry.

In addition to these 2, there are other works that focus on 1 or 2 battles alone without the context of the entire campaign.

Robert Krick did a book that covered Cross Keys and Port Republic: Conquering the Valley, Stonewall Jackson at Port Republic. Krick's main background is with the ANV and he wrote a couple of books just focusing on Stonewall centric battles. It relies predominently on Confederate sources.

Gary Ecelbarger did a couple as well:
We are in for it: The First Battle of Kernstown
Three Days in the Shenandoah: Stonewall Jackson at Front Royal and Winchester

Again, mostly from southern perspective.
 

51st Georgia

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For the broader perspective on Stonewall and his frame of mind, etc, I have to believe the "Bible" there is James Robertson's Stonewall Jackson: The Man The Soldier and the Legend. How I wish that book would released on Epub or Kindle, because its so huge its hard to carry around. One of the best biographies I have ever read
 

James N.

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For the broader perspective on Stonewall and his frame of mind, etc, I have to believe the "Bible" there is James Robertson's Stonewall Jackson: The Man The Soldier and the Legend. How I wish that book would released on Epub or Kindle, because its so huge its hard to carry around. One of the best biographies I have ever read
A totally new and revised edition appeared in the 1990's; I have read both around the times they were published, plus Henderson, but still not Cozzens' book.
I had forgotten that I'd written a more detailed review of the later edition of Tanner's book that you might want to read:

 
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