Civil War Book Review: Defeating Lee: A History of the Second Corps, Army of the Potomac

Defeating Lee: A History of the Second Corps, Army of the Potomac
by Lawrence A. Kreiser Jr.

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

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Indiana University Press (April 19, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0253356164
  • ISBN-13: 978-0253356161

Clubs are trumps!

You can fill a large bookcase with histories of Civil War regiments, brigades and armies.  The army corps seems to be the forgotten unit in history books.  This book could have an impact on this lack as it highlights the importance of these units.  At the start of the war, the army corps was still a new idea and one that encountered real resistance from the government.  We get a small look at the politics of army management and problems of government relations in the acceptance of this organization.

The Second Corps is one of the original corps, serving with the Army of the Potomac from the Peninsula Campaign to Appomattox.  During this time, it developed a reputation as an unparallel fighting unit.  This is not so much a battle history, although there is a lot of that, as a look at maintaining a fighting unit.   This is no easy task.  We see the impact of both battlefield losses and the policy or raising new regiments on the veteran regiments.  Enlistments end creating a constant reorganization at the brigade and division level.  This is both a unique and valuable look at management that others have touched on but not explored.

The author has an easy to read informative style that made the pages fly.  His word portraits make lesser-known names into real people.  The battles descriptions are excellent but at the corps level for the most part.  This is a well-written book with all the items that are expected in a serious history.


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