Two Great Rebel Armies: An Essay in Confederate Military History

By Richard M. McMurry | Go to book overview

CHAPTER NINE
Historians and Generals

This book had its origins in a paper I prepared for the May 1983 meeting of the Confederate Historical Institute in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. That paper, which bore the tide "The Army of Tennessee versus the Army of Northern Virginia," contained in abridged form the theses set forth in Chapters 5 through 8 of this work. That paper, like this essay, was to a great degree a collection of ideas about and a response to a debate that has flared up from time to time since 1969 between Professor Thomas L. Connelly and some of his allies on one side and Professor Albert Castel on the other. It seems, therefore, appropriate to summarize that debate before closing with my own thoughts on the subject. 1

The central figure in the debate was Robert E. Lee. For decades Lee had been so praised by most writers on the war that it was very difficult to get a realistic understanding of his character and personality. Many almost idolatrous biographers had portrayed him as a man virtually without personal flaws and as a general who never made a mistake. In 1969 Connelly launched an effort both to reexamine Lee as a person and to reevaluate his role in the Civil War. In "Robert E. Lee and the Western Confederacy: A Criticism of Lee's Strategic Ability," Connelly sallied forth both to protest what he called "the colonial status of the western Confederate army in . . . Civil War writing and thinking" and to take a new look at Lee's personality, his record as an army commander, and his role as a Civil War strategist. Connelly wanted to "depict . . . Lee as he actually was."

Arguing that Lee "seems to have benefited from special pleading" and that "a balanced treatment of his personality may have been lost in the aura and glamor of the Virginia segment of the

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Two Great Rebel Armies: An Essay in Confederate Military History
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Chapter One - Two Great Armies 1
  • Chapter Two - Some Basic Factors 10
  • Chapter Three - the Yankee Influence 30
  • Chapter Four - Confederate Contributions 56
  • Chapter Five - History's Role 74
  • Chapter Six - Officers and Enlisted Men 87
  • Chapter Seven - the General Officers 106
  • Chapter Eight the Commanding Generals 118
  • Chapter Nine Historians and Generals 140
  • Appendix Known Antebellum Military Experience of Confederate Generals 157
  • Notes 167
  • Bibliography 181
  • Index 189
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