- North with Lee and Jackson: The Lost Story of Gettysburg, and: Lee Moves North: Robert E. Lee on the Offensive from Antietam to Gettysburg to Bristoe Station (review)
- Civil War History
- The Kent State University Press
- Volume 45, Number 1, March 1999
- pp. 78-80
- View Citation
- Additional Information
78CIVIL WAR HISTORY or the passion of his convictions. Ward, an eminent scholar in his own right, has done well by and justice to Gildersleeve, who was, by his own account, "a Charlestonian first, Carolinian next, and then a southerner." Michael A. Morrison Purdue University North with Lee and Jackson: The Lost Story ofGettysburg. By James A. Kegel. (Mechanicsburg, Pa.: Stackpole Books, 1996. Pp. xii, 459. $34.95.) Lee Moves North: Robert E. Lee on the Offensivefrom Antietam to Gettysburg to Bristoe Station. By Michael A. Palmer. (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1998. Pp. xiii, 189. $24.95.) Historians have spilled more ink writing about the Confederate invasions of Maryland in 1862 and Pennsylvania in 1863 than they have about any other Civil War campaigns. In the face of a veritable Gettysburg Industry—magazines and organizations dedicated solely to the study of the campaign—it is futile to suggest that it is time to stop the spillage. The least we can ask, however , is that new studies offer something new. Before us are two studies of the Confederate invasions claiming to be "revisionist" and seeking to put Gettysburg in perspective. Neither of their arguments are really new, but the authors elevate them to new importance. Journalist and veteran Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Civil War Round Table member James Kegel bases his claim to "revisionism" on the premise that historians have written about the Gettysburg Campaign without regard to its larger wartime context. To understand why General Robert E. Lee moved his Army of Northern Virginia into Pennsylvania in June 1863, Kegel insists, the historian cannot merely look at the strategic situation in 1863 but must trace the evolution ofConfederate strategic thinking after 1 861. Not surprisingly, Kegel's book does just that The crux of his argument is that by mid- 1862 Confederate authorities accepted Gen. Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson's insistence that an invasion of the North and a disruption of the Pennsylvania coal industry were the keys to Confederate victory. The Gettysburg Campaign was not, he asserts, the first time that the Confederate high command gave a green light to an invasion intended to disrupt Northern commerce and morale. It was only the first time that circumstances allowed plans to mature. Kegel's narrative documents the dozens of direct and indirect references that appear in the Official Records and other published sources about the desirability of offensive operations. It is, unfortunately , not a tight interpretive package and is easily a hundred pages longer than necessary. There is too much detail on battles that bear little relevance to the "revisionist" heart of this book—and not enough maps to accompany the text. More germane and enlightening are what first appear to be tangents about Federal coastal operations that suggest the vulnerability of the North's grand strategy to Confederate attacks on the coal fields. BOOK REVIEWS79 Where James Kegel sees conscious and wise evolution of strategic thinking, Professor Michael Palmer of East Carolina University sees poor planning and deception. According to Palmer, in each of his three strategic offensives (the Maryland Campaign of 1 862, the Gettysburg Campaign of 1 863, and the Bristoe Station Campaign of October 1 863), Lee went off half-cocked. His assumptions were flawed and purposefully obfuscated. Though he examines what historians typically believe to be Lee's motives for invading the North, Palmer goes beyond earlier critics to question Lee's honesty. Lee, Palmer asserts, had a "penchant for hastily planned, unannounced offensives," operated with a selfserving and self-defeating secrecy, and was able to change his stated goals at will because he had no firm goals or timetables in mind. He merely hoped and assumed that the enemy would make mistakes and afford an opportunity to win a decisive engagement. Though each ofhis campaigns failed miserably, Lee did not leam from his mistakes. Palmer argues that Lee invaded Pennsylvania in June 1 863 and moved north toward the Potomac in October 1 863 because he believed that it was the only means to prevent President Jefferson Davis from transferring (more) units from his army to other theaters. Lee deliberately kept Davis in the dark, and even lied to him about his progress, so that the...