Civil War Book Review: Second Manassas: Longstreet’s Attack and the Struggle for Chinn Ridge

Second Manassas: Longstreet’s Attack and the Struggle for Chinn Ridge
by Scott C. Patchan

Second Manassas: Longstreet's Attack and the Struggle for Chinn Ridge

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Potomac Books Inc. (July 31, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1597976873
  • ISBN-13: 978-1597976879

Second Manassas: Longstreet's Attack and the Struggle for Chinn Ridge by Scott C. PatchanIt is hard to image a trained military man doing a worse job than John Pope at Second Manassas.  His conduct, throughout the campaign, is a classic study of what not to do as a manager.  He rises to army command based on easy victories in the West and unhappiness with McClellan in Washington.  This combination and his ability to say what people wanted to hear made him the man of the hour in the summer of 1862.  Lincoln combines some commands and takes others from the Army of the Potomac to create the new Army of Virginia.

Once in command, Major General John Pope demonstrated an ability to upset everyone under him, “he had not one friend in his command from the smallest drummer boy to the highest general officer.  All hated him”.  His second ability is to ignore anything that did not fit the situation as he saw it.  Pope managed to convince himself that his army was on the verge of a great victory.  He knew that Jackson was defeated and running, that Longstreet was miles away and one more hard blow would destroy the Army of Northern Virginia.  None of this was true.  Jackson, while battered, was holding fast and confident of victory.  Longstreet had extended the Confederate line well beyond Pope’s flank and was preparing to attack.  With a little luck, they will trap Pope’s army against the steep banks of Bull Run capturing most of their guns and wagons.  A major portion of the Eastern Union Army will become ineffective.  A victory of this magnitude coupled with the Seven Days might open the door to independence.

Longstreet’s attack at Second Manassas is one of the most devastating of the war.  He crushes Pope’s flank and drives him from the field.  However, Longstreet did not trap him against Bull Run.  The men, their guns and wagons manage to escape and live to fight at Antietam.

This book is a very tactical history of Longstreet’s attack and the Union response.  Scott C. Patchan demonstrates an in-depth knowledge of the fighting coupled with the ability to make chaos understandable.  His excellent writing, clean, clear and informative brings the men and the battle to life.  This well organized book maintains several actions in a logical sequence without losing the reader.  This is a story of desperate fighting and missed opportunities on both sides.  His evaluation of the leadership is excellent as is his look at what the missed opportunities cost.

Their is a full set of notes, Bibliography, index, illustrations, Order of Battle and driving tour in the book.  This book has one of the worst sets of maps I have seen in a tactical study.  The few maps are badly placed and almost useless.  Most of the maps lack titles, time of day, compass or scale.  Many of them look as if they were enlarged on a copier rather than developed.  If this is the case, the Battlefield Overview map on page 11 is the only map drawn for the book.  Many times, I wasted time looking for landmarks or units only to realize this was the wrong map.  The publisher has done the author and the readers a huge disservice with these maps.

Even with the map problem, this book is worth having.


2 responses to “Civil War Book Review: Second Manassas: Longstreet’s Attack and the Struggle for Chinn Ridge

  1. Michael Bell Avatar

    Thanks for the review of this new book. Sadly, this is not the only recent publication I have heard of that has poorly reproduced maps. I consider clearly labeled maps at pertinent locations in text to be very important for closer understanding of the text. However, like the reviewer, it will probably not keep me from checking out this book, especially since at least one unit later assigned to the 11th Corps was engaged at Chinn Ridge.

  2. Max Terman Avatar

    Relive what it was like to be in Milroy’s brigade on Henry Hill–see Hiram’s Honor at

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