No Band of Brothers: Problems in the Rebel High Command

No Band of Brothers: Problems in the Rebel High Command

No Band of Brothers: Problems in the Rebel High Command

No Band of Brothers: Problems in the Rebel High Command


The Civil War was barely over before Southerners and other students of the war began to examine the Confederate high command in search of an explanation for the South's failure. Although years of research failed to show that the South's defeat was due to a single, overriding cause, the actions of the Southern leaders during the war were certainly among the reasons the South lost the war.

In No Band of Brothers, Steven Woodworth explores, through a series of essays, various facets of the way the Confederacy waged its unsuccessful war for secession. He examines Jefferson Davis and some of his more important generals, including Pierre G. T. Beauregard, Leonidas Polk, Joseph E. Johnston, Robert E. Lee, James Longstreet, Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson, and Winfield Scott; the Confederacy's strategic plans; and the South's success in making competent officers out of men with very little military preparation.

Woodworth particularly looks at the personalities and personal relationships that affected the course and outcome of the war. What made a good general? What could make an otherwise able man a failure as a general? What role did personal friendships or animosities play in the Confederacy's top command assignments and decisions? How successful was the Confederacy in making competent generals out of its civilian leaders? In what ways did Jefferson Davis succeed or fail in maximizing the chances for the success of his cause?

In analyzing the Confederate leadership, Woodworth reveals some weaknesses, many strengths, and much new information. No Band of Brothers will be an important addition to Civil War scholarship and will be welcomed by professional historians, amateur historians,students, and the general reader alike.


The Bonnie Blue Flag” was second only to “Dixie” in its popularity as a Confederate marching song. Its opening words, “We are a band of brothers,” expressed the unity and solidarity that Southerners claimed and for which they hoped in their new republic. While the sentiment may well have been reality for common soldiers— the regiments,brigades,and divisions that made up the Confederacy's armies—it was emphatically not the case with the Confederacy's high command. Among Jefferson Davis and his often rebellious generals,a far different spirit prevailed. Pride, jealousy, mistrust, and cross-purposes among those in high places hamstrung the South's war effort. Whatever the bond that linked Southern common soldiers,the men who sent them into battle were clearly no “band of brothers.”

The Confederacy was not yet in its grave before the analysis of its cause of death began. Southerners first and other students of the war afterward began to examine the Confederate high command in search of the reason for the South's failure to gain its independence. More than a century later, we ought to see,at least,that no such single sufficient cause exists. Rather, the fall of the Confederacy,like practically anything else important that happens in the world,was the product of numerous and complex causes,the result of a great many human decisions,and ultimately,as its contemporaries North and South recognized,a manifestation of God's providential hand in history.

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