The Army of Northern Virginia: Lee's Army in the American Civil War, 1861-1865

By Philip Katcher | Go to book overview

The Senior Command Structure

The command structure of the Army of Northern Virginia was a blend of quarrelsome senior officers and a largely amateur staff. This unpromising group, however, built an army from scratch and held off the Army of the Potomac during four years of campaigning.

The men who ran the Army of Northern Virginia were all young and, for the most part, lacked first-hand military experience when war broke out. None of them, from the most junior aide-de-camp to a lieutenant general, had a knowledge of command before being thrust into running one of the largest armies ever raised on the American continent. Lee had been at various times a staff engineer, superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy, and second in command of a cavalry regiment. Longstreet was a paymaster. Jackson taught artillery tactics at the Virginia Military Institute (VMI). Hill worked in the U.S. Coast Survey. True, the senior Confederate officers tended to be graduates of some military school, ranging from the U.S. Military Academy, to the VMI, to one of the state military schools such as those in South Carolina and Georgia. True, they had largely seen combat as junior grade officers in the 1840s in the Mexican War and in campaigns against the Creeks and Seminoles in Florida. But to the business of high command they were all novices.

At the top were Lee's immediate subordinates, his corps commanders. I Corps was commanded by James Longstreet, known by old friends as “Pete, ” a childhood nickname. He was rapidly taken into Lee's confidence, the commanding general writing Richmond only four days after meeting him for the first time, “Longstreet is a Capital soldier. His recommendations hitherto have been good, & I have

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The Army of Northern Virginia: Lee's Army in the American Civil War, 1861-1865
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 5
  • Key to Maps 6
  • Foreword 7
  • Introduction 8
  • Part I - Creating the Machine 9
  • Background to War 11
  • Recruitment and Training 27
  • Nature of the War 43
  • Logistics 63
  • Part II - The Years of Attack 81
  • The First Manassas Campaign 83
  • Jackson's Valley Campaign 101
  • The Peninsula Campaign 119
  • The Second Manassas Campaign 139
  • The 1862 Maryland Campaign 155
  • Fredericksburg 173
  • Chancellorsville 191
  • Gettysburg 209
  • Part III - The Nature of the Army 229
  • Robert E. Lee 231
  • The Senior Command Structure 245
  • The Rank and File 259
  • The Army and the State Authorities 273
  • Part IV - The Years of Defense 285
  • The Winter of 1863-64 287
  • The Wilderness to Cold Harbor 301
  • Cold Harbor to Petersburg 315
  • The Final Campaign 329
  • Bibliography 345
  • Index 348
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