The Fourth Battle of Winchester: Toward a New Civil War Paradigm

The Fourth Battle of Winchester: Toward a New Civil War Paradigm

The Fourth Battle of Winchester: Toward a New Civil War Paradigm

The Fourth Battle of Winchester: Toward a New Civil War Paradigm

Synopsis

"Students of the Civil War tend to focus attention on the great campaigns and battles that took place in Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania, a practice that Richard M. McMurry contends has distorted many facets of the war. The July 1863 Battle of Gettysburg, for example, came to be widely - if erroneously - regarded as the "decisive battle" and the "turning point" of the war as well as the "high tide" of the Confederacy. In The Fourth Battle of Winchester: Toward a New Civil War Paradigm, McMurry, using a "counter-factual" account of the 1864 campaigns in Virginia, presents a view of the Civil War from the West - moving from the narrow confines of the Old Dominion to the vast Trans-Appalachian region - and gives the reader a new and far more complete understanding of why and how the war ended in a Union victory and of the roles played by several of the conflict's major actors." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

Those of us fortunate enough to spend our adult lives studying the history of the American Civil War often receive invitations to speak at seminars, symposia, Civil War round table meetings, and similar gatherings all across the country. Anyone who addresses more than a few such groups will quickly learn that hundreds of the people who participate in the question-and-answer sessions frequently delight in subjecting the speakers to veritable barrages of “counterfactual” questions.

These sometimes wacky queries revolve around this kind of question: “What would have happened if what did happen had not happened and `X' had happened instead?” Almost any phrase containing one or more proper nouns and, perhaps, a verb or two can be inserted in place of the “X.”

Of all the hundreds of counterfactual Civil War questions I have been asked over the past three decades, I have known the answers to only five:

1. What would have happened if Braxton Bragg had used an atomic bomb at Perryville?

He probably would have won a clear tactical victory for the Confederates, but you can never know. Being Braxton Bragg, he might have vaporized his own army, thereby effectively ending the war in mid-October 1862.

2. What would have happened if Ulysses S. Grant had commanded the Yankee army at Chancellorsville in May 1863?

Today those of us living in what are now the United States and Canada would be speaking German, and most of our histories of the American . . .

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