Challenges of Command in the Civil War: Generalship, Leadership, and Strategy at Gettysburg, Petersburg, and Beyond, Volume 1: Generals and Generalship
by Richard J. Sommers
SOPO’s Take: Richard J. Sommers, author of the excellent Richmond Redeemed: The Siege of Petersburg, which covers the Fifth Offensive at Petersburg, returns to Savas Beatie with a two volume series on generals, leadership, and strategy. This set is a collection of independent essays from the legendary Civil War scholar. The first volume focuses on Generals and Generalship, with six of ten essays focusing on or featuring Petersburg in some way along with maps of the Third through Ninth Offensives at Petersburg. More to come as I get the chance to read through the Petersburg portions.
Other essays focus on corps commanders at Gettysburg and Antietam, as well as civilian Corps commanders, and how certain Revolutionary War leaders had equally famous descendants in the Civil War.
BTC Siege of Petersburg Book Notes:
BTC Siege of Petersburg Book Sources:
Dr. Richard Sommers’ Challenges of Command in the Civil War distills six decades of studying the Civil War into two succinct, thought-provoking volumes. This first installment focuses on “Civil War Generals and Generalship.” The subsequent volume will explore “Civil War Strategy, Operations, and Organization.” Each chapter is a free-standing essay that can be appreciated in its own right without reading the entire book.
Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee stand out in Volume I as Dr. Sommers analyzes their generalship throughout the Civil War. Their exercise of command in the decisive Virginia Campaign from May 1864 to April 1865 receives particular attention-especially during the great Siege of Petersburg, about which the author has long ranked as the pioneering and pre-eminent historian.
Five chapters evaluating Grant and Lee are followed by five more on “Civil War Generals and Generalship.” One of those essays, “American Cincinnatus,” explores twenty citizen-soldiers who commanded mobile army corps in the Union Army and explains why such officers were selected for senior command. Antietam, Gettysburg, and Petersburg are central to three essays on Northern corps and wing commanders. Both Federals and Confederates are featured in “Founding Fathers: Renowned Revolutionary War Relatives of Significant Civil War Soldiers and Statesmen.” The ground-breaking original research underlying that chapter identifies scores of connections between the “Greatest Generations” of the 18th and 19th Centuries-far more than just the well-known link of “Light Horse Harry” Lee to his son, Robert E. Lee.
From original research in Chapter 10 to new ways of looking at familiar facts in Chapters 6-9 to distilled judgments from a lifetime of study in Chapters 1-5, Challenges of Command invites readers to think-and rethink-about the generalship of Grant, Lee, and senior commanders of the Civil War.
This book is an essential part of every Civil War library.
Publisher: Savas Beattie LLC
Release Date: May 2018
Pages: 288 pages
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