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The Politics of Command: Factions and Ideas in Confederate Strategy Hardcover – July, 1973

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About the Author

Thomas Lawrence Connelly was professor of history at the University of South Carolina and the author of, among other books, Army of the Heartland: The Army of Tennessee, 1861--1862 and Autumn of Glory: The Army of Tennessee, 1862--1865.

Archer Jones is professor emeritus of history at North Dakota State University and author or coauthor of many books, including Confederate Strategy from Shiloh to Vicksburg and Why the South Lost the Civil War. He lives in Richmond, Virginia.



Thomas Lawrence Connelly was professor of history at the University of South Carolina and the author of, among other books, Army of the Heartland: The Army of Tennessee, 1861--1862 and Autumn of Glory: The Army of Tennessee, 1862--1865.

Archer Jones is professor emeritus of history at North Dakota State University and author or coauthor of many books, including Confederate Strategy from Shiloh to Vicksburg and Why the South Lost the Civil War. He lives in Richmond, Virginia.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 251 pages
  • Publisher: Louisiana State Univ Pr; First Edition edition (July 1973)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807102288
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807102282
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 5.7 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,912,157 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By T. Judd on April 26, 2000
Format: Paperback
One of the most fascinating aspects of the Civil War is the way in which strategy was determined not so much by military necessity as by the interplay of politics and personalities. While this is true of the Union, it seems to be more so of the South. In this slim volume, the authors take the reader through a study of the prevailing strategic thought (Napoleonic/Jominian) and then discuss how this thinking was applied by the major Southern Commanders. Their conclusions: Lee contributed little to the overall strategic thinking of the South; the commanders in the Western theater (Bragg, A.S. Johnston, Joseph Johnston, Beauregard, et al.) may have had a greater conception of the South's stategic requirements; and, Jefferson Davis was caught between the two. The result? Neither Virginia nor the Western theaters got the military treatment that was required for successful war.
Naturally, it is easy to oversimplify these conditions. Yet, the authors demonstrate that Lee, concentrating on the Virginia front, seemed unaware of the Western theater, resisted efforts to strengthen the West through transfers from the Army of Northern Virginia, and continually requested that the Western theater support his operations with either movements of their own or transfers of troops to Virginia. This criticism of Lee is always a touchy issue (see, Joseph Harsh, Confederate Tide Rising for a contrary position).To his credit, Davis resisted all of these requests and, on one occasion, overruled Lee to have Longstreet's corps sent to the West prior to the late 1863 battle of Chicamauga.
Davis, a Westerner himself (Mississippi) faced a formidible group in what the authors call the Western Concentration Bloc, a group united by family or geographical ties and a mutual hatred of Bragg.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Hurley VINE VOICE on August 22, 2003
Format: Paperback
This a truely great work on the politcal behind the scenes aspects of how the Confederate command structure worked under Davis and the military and political opposition groups that festered within. Davis has incredulous feuds with Johnson and particularly Beauraguard to the point of destruction while maintaining an unbending loyalty to Braxton Bragg even when he loses the support of all the generals in the Army of the Tennesee. What developes is a political block of generals that maintain a loose alliance such as Johnson, Beauraguard, Longstreet and Senator Wigfall from Texas. Certianly astonishing about the effect personal dislikes and favoritism had on militarty assignments and strategy. It is interesting that Johnson had significant support from many fields except Davis. One of the great failings of the Confederacy is that they did not have a competent Secretary of the War that was strong enough to work with Davis until Breckenridge took the job too late.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By T. Judd on April 26, 2000
Format: Paperback
One of the most fascinating aspects of the Civil War is the way in which strategy was determined not so much by military necessity as by the interplay of politics and personalities. While this is true of the Union, it seems to be more so of the South. In this slim volume, the authors take the reader through a study of the prevailing strategic thought (Napoleonic/Jominian) and then discuss how this thinking was applied by the major Southern Commanders. Their conclusions: Lee contributed little to the overall strategic thinking of the South; the commanders in the Western theater (Bragg, A.S. Johnston, Joseph Johnston, Beauregard, et al.) may have had a greater conception of the South's stategic requirements; and, Jefferson Davis was caught between the two. The result? Neither Virginia nor the Western theaters got the military treatment that was required for successful war.
Naturally, it is easy to oversimplify these conditions. Yet, the authors demonstrate that Lee, concentrating on the Virginia front, seemed unaware of the Western theater, resisted efforts to strengthen the West through transfers from the Army of Northern Virginia, and continually requested that the Western theater support his operations with either movements of their own or transfers of troops to Virginia. This criticism of Lee is always a touchy issue (see, Joseph Harsh, Confederate Tide Rising for a contrary position).To his credit, Davis resisted all of these requests and, on one occasion, overruled Lee to have Longstreet's corps sent to the West prior to the late 1863 battle of Chicamauga.
Davis, a Westerner himself (Mississippi) faced a formidible group in what the authors call the Western Concentration Bloc, a group united by family or geographical ties and a mutual hatred of Bragg.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Steven A. Peterson TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 27, 2009
Format: Paperback
This book outlines the divided decision making structure of the Confederate States of America in terms of development of a coherent military strategy. The authors observe that it was not simply a matter of personal conflicts and anti-Jefferson Davis sentiments. As they say (Page x): "[The infighting] involved a continuing debate over basic war policy, particularly the Confederacy's proper strategic course."

Who were the key actors and their perspectives? President Jefferson Davis, from his experience in the Mexican War and from his tour as Secretary of War, felt that he had relevant insights.

There was also Robert E. Lee, who had a vision--but whose vision tended to be limited to the east and--specifically--Virginia. While Davis did not automatically accept Lee's views, he did respect his judgment greatly.

Then, the generals. . . . Beauregard was a key figure in the view that a Western strategy was important. Allied with him? Braxton Bragg, Joseph Johnston, and James Longstreet. Of course, there were also disagreements among these figures (witness Bragg versus Longstreet at Chattanooga). A guiding vision here was Beauregard's understanding of Jomini/Napoleon views of strategy.

Then, the political leaders, such as Wigfall, Miles, Pickens, Harris, and so on.

The bottom line? There were various perspectives on grand strategy and little coherence. President Davis, needless to say, had a difficult task. This book does a nice job of outlining the competing perspectives and the difficulty of developing a final, coherent policy.
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