A Great Civil War is a major new interpretation of the events which continue to dominate the American imagination and identity nearly 150 years after the war's end. In personal as well as historical terms, more even than the war for independence, the Civil War has been the defining experience of American democracy.
A lifelong student of both strategy and tactics, Weigley also brings to his account a deep understanding of the importance of individuals from generals to captains to privates. He can put the reader on the battlefield as well as anyone who has ever written about war. All of the important engagements are covered, and he does it countless times in A Great Civil War. From Fort Sumter to the early clashes in the West and border states to the naval encounters in the East and on through the great and horrible battles whose names resound in American history-Shiloh, Corinth, Bull Run, Gettysburg, Vicksburg, Chickamauga, Antietam, Wilderness, Cold Harbor, Petersburg, Appomattox. A brilliant narrator of battle action and historical events, Weigley is never content merely to tell a good story. Every student of war will find new insights and interpretations at the strategic and the tactical level. There are firm judgments throughout of the leaders on both sides of the conflict.
A Great Civil War also analyzes the politics of both sides in relationship to battlefield situations. Weigley is unique in his ability to put all of the pieces on the board at once; the reader understands as never before how war and politics (and individuals) interacted to produce the infinitely complex story which is the Civil War.
As with any major work, there are themes and subtexts, explicit and implicit:
Both sides began the war with strategic and tactical concepts based on Napoleon which were already obsolete because of changes in technology-and both sides struggled throughout the war to develop new strategic and tactical procedures.
The Civil War was g
Russell F. Weigley (1930-2004) was Distinguished Professor of History Emeritus at Temple University. He is author of numerous books, including The American Way of War, Eisenhower's Lieutenants, and The Age of Battles: The Quest for Decisive Warfare from Breitenfeld to Waterloo, all available from Indiana University Press.
List of Maps Note on Style Introduction To the Gettysburg Address Nineteenth-Century Americans at War Why Did They Fight? Chapter One. From Secession to War The Forts at Charleston The Anomalous Southern Nation The South Begins to Mobilize Fort Sumter: The Crisis Approaches Fort Sumter: The Bombardment Militant America Chapter Two. The Battle Lines Form Napoleonic War War in a New Style Washington Rescued Contentious Missouri: A Failure for Both Sides Neutralist Kentucky Western Virginia: Secession within Secession Mobilizing the Union First Bull Run Chapter Three. Groping for Strategy and Purpose The Union: War Aims at Military Frustration The Confederacy: Recruitment, finance, Blockade, and War Production The Invincible United States Navy The Trent Affair and a Paper Tiger The Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War Lincoln and the Purpose of the War McClellan and the Purpose of the War Chapter Four. Bloodshed and Indecision An Unhappy New Year Mill Springs A Western Strategy Takes Shape Pea Ridge: The Great Battle of the Trans-Mississippi The Far West Forts Henry and Donelson Shiloh Western Drumbeat: New Madrid, Island No. 10, The Locomotive General, Corinth, New Orleans Conscription in the South The Potomac Front Battle of Ironclads McClellan Launches the Peninsula Campaign Stonewall Jackson's Valley Campaign The Climax on the Peninsula: The Seven Days Chapter Five. The Confederacy Takes the Initiative Cedar Mountain and Second Bull Run Lee's First Strategic Offensive: The Maryland Campaign Confederate Riposte in the West: Iuka and Corinth Confederate Offensive in the West: The Kentucky Campaign Lee versus McClellan-For the Last Time Chapter Six. Of Liberty and War The End of Slavery: The Sea Islands The End of Slavery: Congressional Action The End of