5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Great Insight of the Union Command at Chancellorsville,
This review is from: Chancellorsville (Paperback)
Sears always offers superior detail on what went on within the Union command structure before and during the subject battle. This works very well in the battle of Chancellorsville as Hooker, unpopular with his generals, catches Lee by surprise and crosses 70k troops the Rappahannock on Lee's west flank with 30K with Sedgwick in his front at Fredericksburg. Wonderfully executed but things unravel and not all due to Hookers personal failures. Sears in detail notes the failure of Stoneman's failed cavalry raid that not only does not cut Lee's communications but he takes himself out of the battle altogether along with any ability to screen the army or provide intelligence. The failed telegraph that continually delays communication to the apprehensive Sedgwick only contributes to his sloth like movements along with Gibbon's confused feel that he is an independent command and does not aid Sedgwick by any means. Sears makes it clear that Hooker wanted to fight defensively to inflict casualties on Lee's army for a change but the Wilderness does not make the best defensive ground as it not only impairs visibility but reduces the Union artillery which is one of Hooker's failings since he pulled General Hunt out overall command of the artillery. Hooker loses the initiative early and combined with Sickles confused perspective, that Lee is in retreat which in reality was only Jackson's flank march, sets up Jackson's crushing flank attack on the west side of Hooker's line held weakly by Howard's 11th corps whose commander is elsewhere on the field. One of the 11ths division heads also ignores pleas to turn the line west in expectation of an attack. Sears aptly puts to rest that Hooker did not so much lose his head in battler but suffered a concussion from a section of exploding pillar. His inability to pass command contributed to the failure of the Union to centralize their command of the field at the time that Jackson's units seemingly were over running the union's south and western line. This is a very good book to read on Chancellorsville because it was probably the most high stakes battle combined with great daring by both sides
while Sears give you insider information on the decision making of not only the Union but of of Lee, Jackson and Esarly alonmg with the Union Command's. Sears also captures Lee's inate ability to intiate the attack with confidence not only in his troops but in his assurance that his opponent lacks the confidence necessary to win battles. Sears in particular captures these traits in Lee but perhaps at Gettysburg there is an exception to the latter, Meade is now in command.