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Defeating Lee: A History of the Second Corps, Army of the Potomac Hardcover – April 19, 2011

4.2 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Kreiser breathes new life into this most important of Union Army units.... A remarkably well-written and superbly researched account." —David E. Long, author of The Jewel of Liberty: Abraham Lincoln’s Re-election and the End of Slavery

(David E. Long, author of The Jewel of Liberty: Abraham Lincoln’s Re-election and the End of Slavery)

"A handful of black-and-white photographs as well as extensive appendices and notes round out this excellent contribution to Civil War history shelves." —Midwest Book Review

(Midwest Book Review 2011-01-00)

"Lawrence Kreiser tells the Second Corps' story with verve and attention to personal as well as bureaucratic details." —Civil War Librarian

(Civil War Librarian 2011-01-00)

"The author has an easy to read informative style that made the pages fly. His word portraits make lesser-known names into real people.... This is a well-written book with all the items that are expected in a serious history." —

(TOCWOC - A Civil War Blog 2011-01-00)

"Overall, this is a most worthy effort and should be included in the library of every fan of unit histories." —www.civilwarnews.com

(www.civilwarnews.com)

"Attractively organized and well written, Defeating Lee deserves its place as a staple in any library on the Army of the Potomac, large or small." —H-Net Reviews in Humanities & the Social Sciences

(H-Net Reviews in Humanities & the Social Sciences)

About the Author

Lawrence A. Kreiser, Jr., is Associate Professor of History at Stillman College and author (with Ray B. Browne) of Voices of Civil War America: Contemporary Accounts of Daily Life.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Indiana University Press; First Edition edition (April 19, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0253356164
  • ISBN-13: 978-0253356161
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,614,188 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
New and Noteworthy: Bloodied And Unbowed---Army of the Potomac's Second Corps
Defeating Lee: A History of the Second Corps, Army of the Potomac, Lawrence A. Kreiser, Jr., Indiana University Press, 2011,388 pp., appendices, bibliography, notes, index, maps, illustrations, $34.95.

In the American Civil War, an integral role was played by the Army of the Potomac. One of the cornerstones of this army was the Second Army Corps. Lawrence Kreiser tells the Second Corps' story with verve and attention to personal as well as bureaucratic details. The author's study grapples with whether the Second Corps "is a sample providing insight into the rest of the Union army or a subject with its won distinct history." To the author's credit both offers both insight into the commonality of Union soldiers and the uncommon story of a corps that fought from the Peninsula to Appomattox.

Kreiser breaks the four parts.: 1. the organization and first experience of combat [the Peninsula and Maryland campaigns], 2. the consolidation of the corps leadership and its immersion into combat [Fredericksburg through Mine Run campaigns], 3. the shredding and rebuilding [Overland, Petersburg, and Appomattox campaigns, 4. the remembering and memorializing of the corps [the Grand Review through the Grand Army of the Republic associations and the publication in 1887 of the Second Corps' history by former staff officer Francis Walker who died in 1897].

Four of ten Second Corps soldiers became casualties during the war, the highest numerical losses of any Federal corps. Kreiser explains how paid the men paid such a high price for their service. Soldiers' motivation changed over time; leadership was developed then lost in battle and then developed again.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Lawrence Kreiser provides some interesting insight into what I previously thought was a rather homogeneous monolith of an army corps. I always felt that army corps and the divisions that make them up were like blocks of granite moving from place to place only changed by the number of men making up the unit from time to time. When viewing a re-enactment of a Civil War battle, we can see the regiments lining up and fighting as a solid unit which is where my conception originated. I learned that the Second Corps (along with the other corps, of course) was a changing amalgam of units that fought differently in different battles depending on the situation. Changes came from without and within constantly and with the changes came changes in attitudes and morale. Good leaders were replaced by lesser leaders and vise versa. Whole regiments would muster out and be replaced by new regiments completely different than the regiments they replaced. Volunteers were often replaced by conscripts which created resentment and distrust (sometimes quite justified). Regiments lost men by various forms of departure that included death, disease, non-lethal wounds, and desertion. The replacements received were quite often a disappointing lot and didn't live up the to standards set by some of those they replaced. Experienced veterans with excellent combat records who were getting close to their muster out dates quite often would refuse to fight or would hunker down at the first shot and go no further. Whole regiments at times would refuse to fight at various times during the war for reasons unique to that regiment and that particular time and incident. All of this could change the fighting status of the 2nd Corps from day to day all through the war.Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a well written general history of arguably the Army of the Potomac's finest fighting corps, best know, perhaps for repelling Pickett's Charge at Gettysburg.
Suffering heavy casualties in most cases, the Second Corps fought hard in virtually all of the Army of the Potomac's battles from the Peninsula in 1862, through to Appomattox in 1865.
The author pens a warts and all account, and describes the reduction in morale and fighting spirit of the corps by the time of the Siege of Petersburg in 1864, including it's humiliating defeat at Ream's Station. He also describes the reluctance of regiments whose enlistments were soon to run out, to fight with the vigor they previously had exhibited.
The book has valuable appendices describing the order of battle of the corps at important dates in it's history, and there are extensive notes.
Do not confuse this volume with a detailed battle history; it is too short for that. Maps are non existent, and illustrations are few.
Well worth reading for anyone with a serious interest in the Eastern Theatre of the Civil War.
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