In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

272CIVIL WAR HISTORY the literature, the author concludes that Lee was wrong, but based on what the Confederate commander knew and intended his decisions were "reasonable." In the end, Gallagher's Lee is believable. And his argument is persuasive that— through both success and aggressiveness—Lee became a significant factor in prolonging the life of the Confederacy. The second theme, the command structure of the Army ofNorthern Virginia, is pursued through seven essays that center on Stonewall Jackson, James Longstreet, Powell Hill, Richard Ewell, Jubal Early, and somewhat bathetically, John Magruder. Except for Jackson, whose career is viewed entire, the others are captured in moments ofcrisis at Seven Days, Second Manassas, Gettysburg, Wilderness, and the Valley campaigns of 1 862 and 1 864. In each case Gallagher approaches the individual and the event discretely and as a part of the larger picture of the war, in contemporary context and historical interpretation, and with crisp criticism and sympathy for obstacles and obfuscations. The third theme, the perception of the war by participants and their descendants , is central to five of the essays. Gallagher examines the attempt by former Confederates (from Jubal Early to LaSaIIe Picket) to control the war's legacy through the creation of the Myth of the Lost Cause, telling the story in a way that usually exaggerated the truth and sometimes flatly deceived. In the final two essays the author takes to task modern academics who have allowed political correctness—a term Gallagher does not use—to carry them so far astray as to obscure the fact that the Civil War was indeed a war. He concludes with a lucid and powerful argument for the preservation of the battlefield sites and demonstrates for the less imaginative their effective use in teaching social, diplomatic , and intellectual history. It is trite to note ofcertain books that not everyone will agree with all of their conclusions. In this case such an outcome was preordained, because Gallagher chose to confront such controversial topics. Yet is thorough research, his judicious arguments, and his balanced conclusions should advance understanding even with those not ultimately persuaded. It is easy to predict that this book, in addition to bringing pleasurable hours to the general public, will be added to the reading lists of many graduate seminars. Joseph L. Harsh George Mason University General George E. Pickett in Life and Legend. By Lesley J. Gordon. (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1998. Pp. x, 269. $29.95.) Richard M. McMurry observed several years ago, writing about the fame ofthe Army ofNorthern Virginia, that it would be difficult to find an educated American who has never heard of Pickett's Charge. But what does the average Civil War enthusiast know about Maj. Gen. George Edward Pickett himself? Perhaps that the Virginian graduated last in his class at West Point and saw his first BOOK REVIEWS273 combat during the Mexican War, perhaps that as a Confederate General, he was promoted beyond his capabilities and was known almost as much for his dandified manner and romance with a much younger woman as for his generalship; certainly that on the third day at Gettysburg a disastrous assault by his Virginia division and other units against the Federal lines on Cemetery Ridge made Pickett's Charge one of the most famous episodes in American military history. "Great God, where, Oh! Where is my Division?" a distraught Pickett sobbed after the repulse (i 16). While an 1870 exchange between Pickett and John S. Mosby may be apocryphal, it still has the ring of truth about it. Pickett said of Robert E. Lee, "He had my division massacred at Gettysburg." Mosby replied, "Well, it made you immortal" (163). As this illuminating new study demonstrates, however, such immortality has been more the product ofhis widow's portrait of "her soldier" as the ideal Southem gentleman and Confederate hero than the result of any significant assessment of Pickett's life and career. LaSaIIe Corbell Pickett, who outlived her husband by more than fifty years, spent most of that time writing or giving lectures about him, their marriage, the Old South, or the Lost Cause, and helped create the popular image of Pickett as the tragic...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 272-273
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.