Synopses & Reviews
Historical images of Robert E. Lee and his lieutenants have been shaped to a remarkable degree by former Confederates, who in reminiscences and other writings constructed the Lost Cause interpretation of the conflict. They portrayed Lee as a perfect Christian warrior, Stonewall Jackson as his peerless right arm, and the Army of Northern Virginia as the backbone of Confederate resistance. In this collection of thirteen essays, prominent Civil War historian Gary W. Gallagher explores the effect of Lost Cause arguments on popular perceptions of Lee and his most famous subordinates, astutely examining the ways in which historical memory is created and perpetuated.
"Gallagher, one of the most prolific authors writing on the military aspects of the American Civil War, presents in this volume 13 essays, all but one of which have been published before. In the first section, which concentrates on the tactics and strategy of General Robert E. Lee, the author discusses the importance of Lee's victories in maintaining Confederate morale, the risks he took during the 1862 Maryland campaign, the reasons why Lee chose to attack at Gettysburg on the second and third days of that battle, and the falling off of Southern leadership during the final year of the war. While attacking those who discount Lee's abilities as a general, Gallagher provides, particularly in the second and third essays, much information critical of his generalship. The second group of articles explains the reasons behind Stonewall Jackson's popularity, both during and after the Civil War, and John Magruder's unpopularity following the 1862 Peninsula campaign. Gallagher also ably defends the actions of James Longstreet at Second Manassas, A.P. Hill and Richard Ewell on the first day at Gettysburg, and Jubal Early in the Shenandoah Valley campaign of 1864. Once again, several of these essays, those on Longstreet, Hill, and Ewell in particular, provide ammunition for a critique of some of the decisions Lee made as commander of the Army of Northern Virginia. The final section, entitled 'Fighting for Historical Memory,' deals with a diverse series of topics, from the post-war writings of Jubal Early and the forged letters of George Pickett to his wife to Ken Burns's Civil War documentary and the importance of battlefield preservation. In each of these well-written and impressively researched essays, Gallagher has provided much food for thought and many
indications of where future study should take us." Reviewed by Spencer D. Bakich, Virginia Quarterly Review (Copyright 2006 Virginia Quarterly Review)