A Glorious Army: Robert E. Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia from the Seven Days to Gettysburg

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A Glorious Army: Robert E. Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia from the Seven Days to Gettysburg

Author: Jeffry D. Wert
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Copyright: 2011
Pages: 416
Cover Price: $ 30.00

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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.

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Background Information

The Army of Northern Virginia was the Confederate army commanded by General Robert E. Lee in the Civil War. The Battle of Antietam was fought near Sharpsburg MD in 1862 and represented the bloodiest single day in American military history. James Longstreet was one of the leading generals in the army of the Confederate States and after the war became a Republican and a friend of Ulysses S. Grant.