Well, now … if this doesn’t simply raise expectations. 🙂
Albert Castel with Brooks D. Simpson. Victors in Blue: How Union Generals Fought the Confederates, Battled Each Other, and Won the Civil War. Univ. Press of Kansas. November. ISBN 9780700617937. $34.95.
The Union’s generals were complicated men, riddled with weaknesses—and yet they beat their Confederate counterparts. Go along with these authors to learn how and why.
And to think that I was able to get several books and several book chapters out this past year, all while battling the BCM. 🙂
On the list!
That does raise expectations. I long for a book that critically evaluates command function while acknowledging the personal faults – but keeping them separate. As Joseph Harsh pointed out in his paper “On the McClellan-go-round”, the soldiers that served under McClellan and wrote knew him warts and all, but still had confidence in his ability to lead them to victory.
Darn, you’ll distract me from writing up my PhD!
Just received this … as usual, I turn to the section on Vicksburg and read outwards in both directions. 🙂
Still think Castel oversells the idea that Vicksburg was strategically worthless, going so far as to ignore direct primary evidence that beef was coming over from across the river. The Confederates scrambled to move nearly a thousand head across the river as Grant marched south, and that’s just what’s documented in the O.R. for that moment in time.
The greatest boon to come from the fall of Vicksburg is the ascendancy of Grant, but the greatest strategic advantage gained by taking Vicksburg was probably the severing from the Confederacy the new nitre deposits discovered in Texas. By the end of the war, the Confederates had an entire bureau dedicated to the production of nitre, which consumed the labor of 4000 free men (this is not including slave labor, I suspect), and Confederates were paying almost 10 times more for finished gunpowder than the federal government. I suspect Castel could stand to do a little more homework on the strategic importance of Vicksburg … although I will freely admit to the need to do the same.
So how did you come to be involved in the last five chapters only? Any chance we can get the inside scoop on the “agree to disagree, but it’s my book and Simpson can write his own book later if he wishes” points that created impasses?
The first thirteen chapters were in fairly finished condition; the last five chapters required some additional work, and Al needed help there. I don’t think this was an issue of impasses …. it’s Al’s argument, and my job was to help him bring a book to publication. In a few cases I think I influenced Al’s perspective, but on other subjects I believed my role was in support and not as an antagonist.