Updated 12/13/05

General Histories and Miscellaneous

These books cover the strategic aspects of the war and cover more than one campaign.

Joseph L. Harsh

Updated 12/13/05 The book is the first of a trilogy (and what could later to expand to four or more volumes) covering Confederate strategy from the beginning of the war through the end of the Maryland Campaign of 1862. Confederate Tide Rising focuses specifically on Confederate strategy from the start of the war until September 1, 1862, just after the end of the Second Manassas Campaign and just prior to the start of the Maryland Campaign. Harsh states in his preface that this book and the second volume, Taken At The Flood, were meant to be one volume. However, that one volume soon grew to over 1,000 pages and the publishers decided to divide it up into two smaller books. In a little under 300 pages, Harsh focuses on Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, their professional relationship, and how it affected and drove Confederate strategic decisions. The first 208 pages contain the text of the book, and pages 208-254 consist of the lengthy and often extremely interesting notes. A select bibliography and the obligatory index round out the book. I enjoyed this work tremendously, and it whetted my appetite for the next book in the series. I can’t thank enough those from several Civil War message boards and forums who recommended this book to me. The author goes into great detail, in the text, in many appendices, and especially in the voluminous notes. Harsh argues (very persuasively, I might add) that Lee and Davis both were convinced that the only way to win the war was to assume the offensive. They believed the offensive was necessary because the Confederacy wanted to preserve its territory, expand to include other slaveholding states such as Missouri and Kentucky, and also to inflict such devastating losses on the North that they could erode the will of Northern civilians to continue the fight. He debunks the theory that Lee attacked because he had an aggressive personality or because of Southern “elan” and the “Cavalier” mindset.

296 pp., 7 maps

For a full review and summary, click HERE.