Two Great Rebel Armies: An Essay in Confederate Military History

Two Great Rebel Armies: An Essay in Confederate Military History

Two Great Rebel Armies: An Essay in Confederate Military History

Two Great Rebel Armies: An Essay in Confederate Military History

Synopsis

Richard McMurry compares the two largest Confederate armies, assessing why Lee's Army of Northern Virginia was more successful than the Army of Tennessee. His bold conclusion is that Lee's army was a better army--not just one with a better high command.

Excerpt

Several years ago, after completing a biography of Confederate General John Bell Hood, I began work on a history of the Atlanta Campaign of 1864--a then much-neglected military operation that had been very important in the American Civil War. After several months' work on the project, I found myself completely bogged down in what was rapidly becoming a three-hundred-page introduction to chapter one of a history of the Atlanta Campaign.

When two other starts produced similar results, I realized that it was going to be impossible to complete the study I envisioned without going into so much background material that the introductory section would constitute a separate book. Such a study would inevitably embrace far more than a simple narrative of the 1864 struggle for Atlanta. It would have to include a detailed examination of the Federal and Confederate armies in the winter of 1863-64 and of their preparations for the campaign of the following spring and summer. Such a discussion would cover in detail their organizations, their leaders, their personnel, and the overall political and strategic situation in which they found themselves in the spring and summer of 1864.

More work along these lines led to similar problems. It was simply impossible to discuss intelligently the situation in the winter of 1863-64 without going back to the events that took place in the fall of 1863. Coverage of those events, in turn, necessitated a discussion of what had happened in the preceding summer. Eventually, by following this process, I reached the spring of 1862 and was, I thought, ready to begin to write my history of the Atlanta Campaign. Again, however, it soon became obvious that I needed to go back even earlier. Many of the factors--both bad and good--that hampered or helped the two armies struggling in North Georgia in 1864 had their origins in . . .

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