Defeating Lee: A History of the Second Corps, Army of the Potomac

Defeating Lee: A History of the Second Corps, Army of the Potomac

Defeating Lee: A History of the Second Corps, Army of the Potomac

Defeating Lee: A History of the Second Corps, Army of the Potomac

Synopsis

Fair Oaks, the Seven Days, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Gettysburg, Cold Harbor, Petersburg--the list of significant battles fought by the Second Corps, Army of the Potomac, is a long and distinguished one. This absorbing history of the Second Corps follows the unit's creation and rise to prominence, the battles that earned it a reputation for hard fighting, and the legacy its veterans sought to maintain in the years after the Civil War. More than an account of battles, Defeating Lee gets to the heart of what motivated these men, why they fought so hard, and how they sustained a spirited defense of cause and country long after the guns had fallen silent.

Excerpt

The study of the Union war effort is increasingly filled by unit histories. Books on armies, brigades, and regiments abound, many of them well written and researched. Missing, however, are histories of army corps. No study of an army corps has been published since six written by Union veterans well over one century ago. the oversight is all the more surprising given that many modern-day scholars consider corps as the building blocks of Civil War armies. Corps consisted of two to four divisions and numbered, at any given time, between 10,000 and 30,000 men. Forming the largest organizational divisions within individual Union armies, corps served as the primary means for field commanders to maneuver and fight their forces.

The Union had created nearly forty-five corps by the end of the Civil War, but none achieved the distinction of the Second Corps. Only soldiers in the Second Corps served throughout the war in the Army of the Potomac, the premier Union military force in the eastern theater. the men always seemed to be where the action was the hottest, from storming the Bloody Lane at Antietam on September 17, 1862, to repulsing Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg on July 3, 1863; from capturing the Bloody Angle at Spotsylvania on May 12, 1864, to cutting off the Confederate retreat at Appomattox on April 7, 1865. the Second Corps was also larger than any other Union corps, and by the last year of the war comprised one-quarter of the manpower in the Army of the Potomac.

The illustrious record of the Second Corps came at a high cost. of the 100,000 men who served during the war, 40,000 were killed, wounded, or captured. These were the highest numerical losses of any . . .

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