Civil War Book Review: Soldiering in the Army of Northern Virginia: A Statistical Portrait of the Troops Who Served under Robert E. Lee

by James Durney on July 28, 2011 · 0 comments

Soldiering in the Army of Northern Virginia: A Statistical Portrait of the Troops Who Served under Robert E. Lee
by Joseph T. Glatthaar

A Glorious Army: Robert E. Lee's Triumph 1862-1863 by Jeffry D. Wert

 

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press (June 2, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807834920
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807834923

Joseph T. Glatthaar gathered an astounding amount of data when writing “General Lee’s Army”, much of it only partially used.  This book puts that data to use in a very impressive statistical look at the Army of Northern Virginia.  The AoNV is a mythic army in American lore that uses outstanding leadership and hard hitting to overcome serious obstacles.  The composition and background of the men who were able to develop and maintain such a high motivation during the war is the subject of this book.  I know of no other book that looks at this army in such detail.  The publisher advertises this book as a “companion” to the first book.  While that is true, I feel this book will be indispensible for anyone wishing to study the Army of Northern Virginia.  It can and will stand on its’ own as a “must have” for any serious Civil War library.  Working from a base of 600 members of the AoNV, the author produces a quantitative study of astounding detail.  The greatest danger is that others will attempt to extend these statistics to Civil War armies in general.

Chapter One, The Army, is full of nuggets of information and is a delight to read.  “Conclusions” is a very well written ten-page essay on his findings.  The chapter on each branch of the service shows the differences between them and contains some real surprises.  The balance of the book, analyses the army based on an assortment of items.  This includes place of birth, year of enlistment, age, marital status and number of children.  Each of the 12 chapters contains a series of bar graphs and narrative.  If you are just sitting and reading the book, this can be repetitious.  If you are looking for a statistic, this is vital and necessary.

Joseph T. Glatthaar is a good writer who can say similar things many times without being boring.  Additionally, I always managed to find a “WOW!” to keep my attention going.  This is a book for the very serious student of the war.  It is not a casual read but will extend and enhance the reader’s knowledge.


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