Academic journal article The Arkansas Historical Quarterly

Lee and His Generals in War and Memory

Academic journal article The Arkansas Historical Quarterly

Lee and His Generals in War and Memory

Article excerpt

Lee and His Generals in War and Memory. By Gary W. Gallagher. (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1998. Pp. xvi, 298. Preface, credits, illustrations, index. $27.95.)

During the 1870s and 1880s a group of embittered former Confederate officers developed the Lost Cause interpretation of the Civil War. According to their version of events, the Civil War was decided in the east where the brilliant Robert E. Lee and his gallant Army of Northern Virginia produced one miracle after another until finally compelled to yield to vastly superior numbers and resources. This distorted and self-serving interpretation has dominated the public memory of the Civil War for over a century and is still going strong today. Perhaps the pen really is mightier than the sword.

The latest news from the historiographical front indicates that a more accurate view of the Civil War is gaining ground, albeit slowly. A growing number of historians are pointing out the fairly obvious facts that the Civil War was decided in the west, that internal Confederate weaknesses were as important as northern resources in bringing about defeat, and that the officers and men of the Army of Northern Virginia made mistakes just like everyone else.

Gary W. Gallagher is the premier authority on Confederate military affairs in the east. In Lee and His Generals in War and Memory he presents a collection of thirteen essays on the leaders of the Army of Northern Virginia. …

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