A new look at the Civil War battle that led to Stonewall Jackson’s death: A Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year and “tour de force in military history” (Library Journal).
From the award-winning, national bestselling author of Gettysburg, this is the definitive account of the Chancellorsville campaign, from the moment “Fighting Joe” Hooker took command of the Army of the Potomac to the Union’s stinging, albeit temporary, defeat. Along with a vivid description of the experiences of the troops, Stephen Sears provides “a stunning analysis of how terrain, personality, chance, and other factors affect fighting and distort strategic design” (Library Journal).
“Most notable is his use of Union military intelligence reports to show how Gen. Joseph Hooker was fed a stream of accurate information about Robert E. Lee’s troops; conversely, Sears points out the battlefield communications failures that hampered the Union army at critical times . . . A model campaign study, Sears’s account of Chancellorsville is likely to remain the standard for years to come.” —Publishers Weekly
“The finest and most provocative Civil War historian writing today.” —Chicago Tribune
Chancellorsville was one of the Civil War's pivotal campaigns, a great victory for the South that, however, led directly to the death of top Confederate general Stonewall Jackson. It hasn't generated the amount of literature devoted to most major Civil War battles, largely because John Bigelow's 1910 classic, The Campaign of Chancellorsville, seemed for years to offer the last word. But Sears, employing a mix of published and unpublished primary accounts to buttress secondary studies, manages to offer more than one new word in a thoroughly engaging text. Most notable is his use of Union military intelligence reports to show how General Joseph Hooker was fed a stream of accurate information about Robert E. Lee's troops; conversely, Sears points out the battlefield communications failures that hampered the Union army at critical times. He also examines the roles of Hooker and his corps commanders, finding that half of the latter badly served their commander in the campaign. On the Confederate side, Sears analyzes Lee's faulty intelligence and his relationships with his subordinates. Throughout, he highlights Lee's marvelous good luck, as well as his army's fighting capability. One of the book's three appendices explores several of the battle's "romances"--e.g., Jackson's wounding, Alfred Pleasonton's false stories--while two other appendices present orders of battle and casualties. A model campaign study, Sears's account of Chancellorsville is likely to remain the standard for years to come. Maps and photos not seen by PW.