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Return to Bull Run: The Campaign and Battle of Second Manassas Hardcover – November 1, 1992

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; First Edition edition (November 1, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671793683
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671793685
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.4 x 2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #821,239 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This comprehensively researched, well-written book represents the definitive account of Robert E. Lee's triumph over Union leader John Pope in the summer of 1862. While Pope, supported by President Lincoln, sought to bring the war home to Virginia, Lee proposed to carry the war to the North. Lee befuddled, then defeated Pope in a campaign of masterful maneuvering that rivaled Chancellorsville as the Army of Northern Virginia's greatest achievement. Hennessey, a National Park Service historian, expertly depicts the horror and confusion of battle, highlighting the difficulties of controlling a Civil War battle once it had begun. Lee's strategic skills, and the capabilities of his principal subordinates James Longstreet and Stonewall Jackson, brought the Confederates onto the field of Second Manassas at the right places and times against a Union army that knew how to fight, but not yet how to win. History Book Club dual main selection.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

This book's rather unimaginative title cloaks a fascinating look at a very important topic: the Second Battle of Bull Run. The battle, fought in August 1862, was a disastrous punctuation to the Union's summer threat to Richmond and facilitated Robert E. Lee's first northern invasion in the fall. Hennessy tells the story well for both scholar and general reader; unfortunately, the battle has been neglected, and such a good book on it is doubly welcome. Particularly interesting are the author's untanglings of the Union Army's egregious performance, orchestrated by its commander, John Pope, a supercilious braggart, and his singularly insubordinate subordinates. This fine book belongs in all libraries. History Book Club main selection.
- Fritz Buckallew, Univ. of Central Oklahoma Lib., Edmond
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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See all 30 customer reviews
I highly recommend this to Civil War buffs.
David J. Maschek
Its a fantastic retelling of how Robert E. Lee and his troops totally defeated the northern army led by John Pope.
Also Hennessy really impressed me with his writing skills.
B. Morris

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By B. Morris on October 24, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
There are a lot of books out that deal with specific Civil War battles but few can match Hennessy's Return to Bull Run for it's scholorship and fine writing.

Of Lee's battles in the early Civil War, Second Bull Run likely gets the least amount of attention. Sandwiched between the Peninsula Campaign and Antietam it is simply overlooked. Hennessy however in Return to Bull Run shows not only why the battle may be one of Lee's finest but also how the battle severely hurt Lee's campaign into Maryland.

One of the things I like about this book is Hennessy tackles some of the big myths surrounding the battle with solid research. He does a great job from going from the big picture with discussing the overall strategy down to the tactical with interesting stories of the experiences of individual soldiers.

Also Hennessy really impressed me with his writing skills. I wish every Civil War author had Hennessy's talent for keeping the narrative going without getting bogged down once they get into the battle itself. To often authors get so stuck in describing the Xs and Os of the regimental movements that they forget the men involved but Hennessy keeps the story flowing nicely all the way through.

This is a book that any Civil War buff will greatly enjoy reading and will be the definitive book on the battle for a long time to come.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Weegee on June 22, 2004
Format: Paperback
Most people have said it already, but this really is the standard of campaign study. I won't go as far as saying it's as great as Coddington's Gburg work, but Return to Bull Run is 97% there.
My few little quibbles are:
1) with the maps, which although numerous, very timely and well placed, can be a bit cluttered when brigades/divisions/etc are placed on top of roads, rivers, cities. Basically, the area is not cleared out, but rather the block is placed right on top. It takes a little getting used to but at the first few glances looks like mixing up letters in a scrabble bag.
2)the background leading into the campaign was a little rushed, imo. I now realize that 2nd Manassas was a very complex battle with several skirmishes and engagements leading into the actual battle. I suspect to spend another 40-50 pages on "the build up" probably would have made this book gigantic beyond what it already is. Not a big hassle if you're well informed on the 7 Days and Cedar Mountain battles and the circumstances as to why the armies found each other where they first did, but it would have been nice to have gotten a little more depth (similar to Coddington covering Chancellorsville, restructuring of the armies, etc. Afterall, the first 2/5 of Codd's book does not even touch on Gburg)
3) it could be that I was in a bad mood when I first started the book, but the initial 75 pages or so seemed to be "thicker" reading than the rest of the book. Sort of like a term paperish style. I found myself re-reading several passages because I lost my place or didn't grasp the point.
That being said, the book really is brilliant. No one will doubt Hennessy's knowledge and to my delight, his writing style opened up and became a breeze to read.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By E. E Pofahl on June 5, 2001
Format: Paperback
John Hennessy has written the definitive account of the Campaign and Battle of Second Manassas. Regarding the Union commander, the text states "John Pope has come to us as a bumbling fool....But in the summer of 1862 he possessed many of the qualities the administration felt it needed in Virginia. His record was not so much impressive as solid." Chapter 1 notes that the government was partly responsible for the Second Manassas defeat writing "...the real problem lay not just with Lincoln's military inability's, but with the government's insistence on using the military as a refuge for political patrons." The book recalls an interesting fact noting that Pope's infamous orders No. 5, subsisting off the land; No. 7, guerrillas; and No. 11, disloyal citizens were approved in advance by Lincoln. Order No. 5, directing subsistence off the land, was especially onerous as the it was used as a license to loot.
This was Robert E. Lee's first full campaign as commander of the Army of Northern Virginia and the Federals gave Lee the strategic initiative in Virginia by abandoning the Peninsula. The book details Lee's campaign from the Rapidan to the battle at Manassas. Many interesting and critical events prior to the Manassas are described. While the two armies were stalemated on the Rappahannock, Stuart's raid striking Pope's rear is narrated followed by an account of Stonewall Jackson's August 25 flanking movement which resulted in the burning of Bristoe Station and the capture of Manassas Junction August 27th. The author notes that throughout these actions Pope's cavalry failed to produce intelligence about Lee's movements and intentions but rather "stood ragged and impotent"
John Hennessy details the bloody battles on August 28, 29 and 30.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 30, 1998
Format: Paperback
The real question has to be why it took until 1993 for publication of a thorough, detailed account of one of the ten most important campaigns of the eastern theater of the ACW. In his thoroughly researched, convincingly told history, Mr. Hennessy clearly elucidates the strategic significance and tactical nuances of this critical campaign. Second Manassas was the first complete campaign conducted by Lee's Army of Northern Virginia (the Seven Days was already in progress when Lee relieved the wounded Joe Johnston) and his army would never function better, as a whole. Mr. Hennessy, whose authority on this subject - as a former historian at Manassas NBP - is unquestioned, provides the right mix of detail and commentary, with copious annotations and references for further study as well as informative maps. Where this work excels is not in the research, maps and detail - all well presented - but in the analysis. Mr. Hennessy does not shrink from direct, pointed commentary, and his comprehensive presentation of the facts well supports his conclusions. This is a fascinating story with a cast of interesting characters: the "miscreant" Pope "suppressed" by Lee; Fitz John Porter - the scapegoat who fought a twenty year battle after the war to clear his name; the enigmatic Jackson conducting one of his decisive, textbook flank marches; the Napoleon want-to-be McClellan, scheming from the Peninsula and then Alexandria to regain command of his army; the pompous, mad Milroy; the list goes on and on. The personal aspect of the engagement is emphasized throughout - the reader is never allowed to forget that men and boys with individual hopes and fears fought and suffered at Second Manassas.Read more ›
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