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Cover image for A glorious army : Robert E. Lee's triumph, 1862-1863
A glorious army : Robert E. Lee's triumph, 1862-1863

First Simon & Schuster hardcover edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Simon & Schuster, 2011, ©2011.
Physical Description:
xiii, 383 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations, maps ; 25 cm
The man and the army -- Seven Days -- "To change the theater of war" -- Lee's masterpiece -- The army's finest hour -- "The easiest battle we ever fought" -- "The boldest and most daring strategy of the whole war" -- "I think we will clear the yankees out this summer" -- "The enemy is there and I am going to strike him" -- "A glorious army."
Looks at the history of the Army of Northern Virginia from when Robert E. Lee took command in 1862 until the battle of Gettysburg thirteen months later, considering the reasons for its success during this period, and for its eventual defeat.
Conference Subject:


Call Number
973.742 WERT

On Order



From the time Robert E. Lee took command of the Army of Northern Virginia on June 1, 1862, until the Battle of Gettysburg thirteen months later, the Confederate army compiled a record of military achievement almost unparalleled in our nation's history. How it happened the relative contributions of Lee, his top command, opposing Union generals, and of course the rebel army itself is the subject of Civil War historian Jeffry D. Wert's fascinating and riveting new history. In the year following Lee's appointment, his army won four major battles or campaigns and fought Union forces to a draw at the bloody Battle of Antietam. Washington itself was threatened, as a succession of Union commanders failed to stop Lee's offensive. Until Gettysburg, it looked as if Lee might force the Union to negotiate a peace rather than risk surrendering the capital or even losing the war. Lee's victories fired southern ambition and emboldened Confederate soldiers everywhere. Wert shows how the same audacity and aggression that fueled these victories proved disastrous at Gettysburg. But, as Wert explains, Lee had little choice: outnumbered by an opponent with superior resources, he had to take the fight to the enemy in order to win. For a year his superior generalship prevailed against his opponents, but eventually what Lee's trusted lieutenant General James Longstreet called "headlong combativeness" caused Lee to miscalculate. When an equally combative Union general Ulysses S. Grant took command of northern forces in 1864, Lee was defeated. A Glorious Army draws on the latest scholarship, including letters and diaries, to provide a brilliant analysis of Lee's triumphs. It offers fresh assessments of Lee; his top commanders Longstreet, Jackson, and Stuart; and a shrewd battle strategy that still offers lessons to military commanders today. A Glorious Army is a dramatic account of major battles from Seven Days to Gettysburg that is as gripping as it is convincing, a must-read for anyone interested in the Civil War.

Reviews 3

Kirkus Review

A Civil War specialist revisits the glory days of one of the most splendid fighting forces ever assembled: the Army of Northern Virginia (ANV).After the bitter defeat at Gettysburg, the Confederate army, its officer corps severely depleted, never regained the momentum it had achieved since June 1862 when Robert E. Lee assumed command. But what a run they had. At the Seven Days, Second Manassas, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville and even the bloody stalemate at Antietam, the ANV fashioned a brilliant string of military successes that changed the course of the war in the East. In the process, Lee and his gallant army came to embody the Southern cause, keeping alive the possibility against long odds that the Confederacy might survive. Assessing the ANV's legacy, Wert (Cavalryman of the Lost Cause: A Biography of J.E.B. Stuart, 2008, etc.) eschews the tick-tock of battle in favor of analysis of the big-picture, how the army was led and how the rank and file responded. Nimbly sifting the oftentimes conflicting judgments of a wide array of historians and making vivid use of primary source documents, the author demonstrates how everythingthe good and the badbegan with Lee. He immediately reorganized and disciplined the army, improved communications, delegated broad authority to his senior commanders, particularly the steady, reliable James Longstreet and the eccentric, audacious Stonewall Jackson, and relied on a talented cadre of brigade and regimental officers to implement his relentlessly aggressive battle plans. Convinced the South could never prevail relying on a passive, defensive strategy, Lee constantly took the fight to the enemy, even as the battlefield victories bled his forces. Wert covers it allthe blunders, the exceptional maneuvers, the irreparable losses, all the exquisitely difficult choices facing a general whose bold calculations always prevailed until, finally, they didn't.An energetic, evenhanded assessment that gets at the heart of Lee's genius and the heroic achievements of the army he so ably led.]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

The adoration of Lee is so ceaseless that one almost wishes for a National Enquirer-type hatchet job. Wert, an acclaimed Civil War historian, is obviously not the man for that task. Instead, he offers a generally admiring account of Lee, the man and general, from his assumption of command of the Army of Northern Virginia in June 1862 to the surrender at Appomattox Court House in April 1865. As the title indicates, the emphasis is on the period of Lee's greatest victories. Wert justifiably praises Lee's tactical brilliance in thwarting McClellan during the Seven Days' Battle as well as his risky but masterfully executed gamble at Chancellorsville. Still, he lets Lee off too easily for his failures at Gettysburg and, more generally, for his pugnacious style when defensive action might have been more prudent. Scholars and Civil War buffs will find little new here, but this will serve for general readers as a well-written, easily digestible account of Lee's successes.--Freeman, Ja. Copyright 2010 Booklist

Library Journal Review

Acclaimed Civil War historian Wert (Cavalryman of the Lost Cause: A Biography of J.E.B. Stuart), who has written extensively on both Robert E. Lee's army and the Union's Army of the Potomac, brings his lucid literary skills and keen analysis to a close examination of Lee's military character and conduct during the most successful period of his generalship. Wert argues that Lee became an aggressive general in his strategy and tactics as he recognized that the South could not survive a protracted war and needed to win convincingly in the field because of his own psychological understanding of war and his belief in the invincibility of his soldiers. Wert shows how Lee's aggressiveness succeeded in the field, even against great odds, but ultimately undermined the offensive killing power of his army owing to high battlefield losses. Sloppy intelligence, a tired general, confusing orders, and other factors led to Lee's defeat at Gettysburg, thus shifting the strategic initiative to the Union. VERDICT Wert's book is a page-turner and an essential read for both Civil War history fans and scholars and a work to ponder in terms of the ways self-perceptions inform policy and chance as much as design decides military destiny.-Randall M. Miller, Saint Joseph's Univ., Philadelphia (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgmentsp. xi
Prologuep. 1
Chapter 1 The Man and the Armyp. 5
Chapter 2 Seven Daysp. 19
Chapter 3 ôTo Change the Theater of the Waröp. 53
Chapter 4 Lee's Masterpiecep. 75
Chapter 5 The Army's Finest Hourp. 109
Chapter 6 ôThe Easiest Battle We Ever Foughtöp. 145
Chapter 7 ôThe Boldest and Most Daring Strategy of the Whole Waröp. 175
Chapter 8 ôI Think We Will Clear the Yankees Out This Summeröp. 207
Chapter 9 ôThe Enemy Is There and I Am Going to Strike Himöp. 235
Chapter 10 ôA Glorious Armyöp. 277
Abbreviationsp. 297
Notesp. 299
Bibliographyp. 343
Indexp. 367