Lee and His Generals
Essays in Honor of T. Harry Williams
Publication Year: 2012
A legendary professor at Louisiana State University, T. Harry Williams not only produced such acclaimed works as Lincoln and the Radicals, Lincoln and His Generals, and a biography of Huey Long that won both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, but he also mentored generations of students who became distinguished historians in their own right. In this collection, ten of those former students, along with one author greatly inspired by Williams’s example, offer incisive essays that honor both Williams and his career-long dedication to sound, imaginative scholarship and broad historical inquiry.
The opening and closing essays, fittingly enough, deal with Williams himself: a biographical sketch by Frank J. Wetta and a piece by Roger Spiller that place Williams in larger historical perspective among writers on Civil War generalship. The bulk of the book focuses on Robert E. Lee and a number of the commanders who served under him, starting with Charles Roland’s seminal article “The Generalship of Robert E. Lee,” the only one in the collection that has been previously published. Among the essays that follow Roland’s are contributions by Brian Holden Reid on the ebb and flow of Lee’s reputation, George C. Rable on Stonewall Jackson’s deep religious commitment, A. Wilson Greene on P. G. T. Beauregard’s role in the Petersburg Campaign, and William L. Richter on James Longstreet as postwar pariah.
Together these gifted historians raise a host of penetrating and original questions about how we are to understand America’s defining conflict in our own time—just as T. Harry Williams did in his. And by encompassing such varied subjects as military history, religion, and historiography, Lee and His Generals demonstrates once more what a fertile field Civil War scholarship remains.
Lawrence Lee Hewitt is professor of history emeritus at Southeastern Louisiana University. Most recently, he and Arthur W. Bergeron, now deceased, coedited three volumes of essays under the collective title Confederate Generals in the Western Theater.
Thomas E. Schott served for many years as a historian for the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Special Operations Command. He is the author of Alexander H. Stephens of Georgia: A Biography, which won both the Society of American Historians Award and the Jefferson Davis Award.
Published by: The University of Tennessee Press
Title Page, Copyright Page
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Professor T. Harry Williams never got to enjoy retirement from his long teaching career at Louisiana State University. In fact, he had been hospitalized for over two months when he was officially retired on the last day of June 1979; he lived only seven more days before succumbing to a respiratory ailment, with half a dozen Ph.D. candidates still in his stable. An appropriate remembrance for the “Old Man,” as he was affectionately known among...
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We extend our thanks to Scot Danforth and the entire staff at the
University of Tennessee Press who, with unfailing expertise and good humor,
assisted us in so many ways during the production of this book.
Our gratitude and thanks go as well to all the others who helped us: to our insightful readers whose suggestions materially improved the volume...
T. Harry Williams: Pragmatic Historian
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T. Harry Williams was a Midwesterner by birth and education, a Southerner by choice and adoption. Born in the hamlet of Vinegar Hill, Illinois, on May 19, 1909, he grew up in Hazel Green, Wisconsin, where his father moved to raise sheep following the death of his wife. A precocious child, young Harry had read deeply in the classics, biography, history, and historical...
The Generalship of Robert E. Lee
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Machiavelli wrote that victory is the final test of skill in war. “If a general wins a battle,” he said, “it cancels all other errors and miscarriages.” Conversely, one may infer, if a general loses a battle, it cancels all other brilliance and daring. Experience in two world wars, followed by a growing insecurity in the modern age, heightens the American sense of nationalism today...
A “Confusion of Tongues”: The Ebb and Flow of Robert E. Lee’s Reputation since 1964
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I was almost a student of T. Harry Williams. I had read (indeed, reviewed in an undergraduate essay) his Lincoln and His Generals (1952) and had been left dazzled by his vigorous literary skill and trenchancy of argument. When I contemplated serious research on the Civil War, his name appeared at the top of the list of the American scholars under whom I preferred...
Lee’s Most Maligned General: “Fighting Dick” Anderson
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Seven men commanded infantry corps for length y periods in th e Army of Northern Virginia. The first were James Longstreet and Thomas J. Jackson. When General Robert E. Lee reorganized the army following Jackson’s death in May 1863, Richard S. Ewell took over Stonewall’s 2nd Corps and Ambrose Powell Hill was promoted to head the newly constituted 3rd Corps...
Jeb Stuart, R. E. Lee, and Confederate Defeat at Gettysburg
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The Battle of Gettysburg was the Civil War’s biggest battle, and it produced numerous controversies. Some swirled around Major General J. E. B. Stuart, leader of the Cavalry Corps of the Army of Northern Virginia and one of the Confederacy’s most significant and successful generals. Stuart revealed that at Gettysburg on July 3, he led most of General Robert E...
P. G. T. Beauregard and the Petersburg Campaign
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September 7, 1864, dawned cloudy and cool along the trenches ringing Petersburg and Richmond. Except for the usual picket firing and occasional exchange of artillery, the opposing armies remained quiet in their elaborate fortifications, welcoming the respite from a campaign that had already witnessed four bloody Union offensives. In the Confederate capital, General...
Stonewall Jackson: The Christian Soldier in Life, Death, and Defeat
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“That crazy old Presbyterian fool,” was how Major General A. P. Hill in the fall of 1862 described Lieutenant General Thomas J. Jackson. At the time Hill was ailing and had been feuding with Jackson off and on for the last two months, though other soldiers in Jackson’s corps might have agreed with Hill’s description. But by this time the eccentric Jackson had also acquired a...
“The Road to Hell Is Paved with Good Intentions”: James Longstreet in War and Peace
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St. Bernard of Clairvaux, a medieval French cleric, sponsor of the Crusades, and confessor to the Knights Templar, is credited with the aphorism that aptly describes those of good purpose whose best efforts fall short of expectations.1 The Civil War is full of officers on both sides who suffered from such frustration. But few of the war’s generals felt the sting of disappointment...
Jubal Early: Confederate in the Attic
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Ever since the 1870s, when an utterly unreconstructed Jubal A. Early was rendering far better service to the Confederate States than he ever did in a major general’s uniform, his grizzled, bearded countenance has been the face of the Lost Cause. An interconnected bundle of partisan interpretations of the American Civil War that virtually exonerated the Southern states from...
John B. Gordon and the “Gospel of Reconciliation”
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John B. Gordon of Georgia became one of the most popular and important Southerners in the decades following the American Civil War. The reputation he earned while “wearing the gray” not only endeared him to former Confederates and eventually won him the respect of his opponents in blue but also influenced almost every aspect of his life over the next forty years...
Williams among the Rebels: Southern Generalship in the Civil War
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T. Harry Williams was a Union man, through and through. Although he spent the greater part of his career in the deepest South and had great understanding and sympathy for his adopted home, he never went native. In his sensibilities and in his values he remained the resolute Midwesterner. That...
Publications of T. Harry Williams
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Page Count: 368
Publication Year: 2012