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Brigadier General John D. Imboden: Confederate Commander in the Shenandoah Hardcover – November 29, 2002

3.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"Both a serious study of a controversial figure and a very readable story of a nineteenth century American."―Army History

"Follows Imboden's career through and beyond the Civil War. Tucker profiles a non-military man, more inclined to business and local politics, who with troops drawn primarily from the areas that they defended, made the most of his own innovation, initiative and drive to serve state and country. Imboden's efforts in the closing days of the war on behalf of Union prisoners at Andersonville highlight his humanity."―Blue Ridge Country

"With extensive research in primary and secondary sources, Tucker highlights Imboden's strengths and points out that he has not received proper credit for his contributions to the Confederate war effort."―Civil War History

"Tucker has endeavored to rescue John D. Imboden from the ranks of the little-understood and unjustly pilloried."―Fredericksburg (VA) Free Lance-Star

"Well written and persuasively argued, Tucker's biography of John D. Imboden provides a new look at the life of a fascinating man and the turbulent times he lived through."―H-Net Reviews

"Comprehensively researched and narrated in detail, Spencer Tucker's biography will endure as the standard study of General Imboden. The book places Imboden's reminiscences of Stonewall Jackson in perspective and reveals new insight on Imboden's supervision of Andersonville and postwar promotion of railroads and mining in Virginia."―James A. Ramage

"Imboden's interesting life and career make for good biography."―Journal of Military History

"Tucker has written well about the career and record of John D. Imboden."―Journal of Southern History

"Tucker examines the life of this Confederate cavalry commander, including Imboden's postwar writing, and explores overlooked facets of his life, such as his involvement in the Confederate prison system, his efforts to restore the economic life of his home state of Virginia by developing its natural resources and his founding of the city of Damascus, which he hoped to make into a new iron and steel center."―Lexington (VA) News-Gazette

"Tucker fully examines the life of this Confederate cavalry commander."―McCormick (SC) Messenger

"Carefully and critically compares Imboden's own accounts of events against each other, as well as against other sources, to come up with an excellent look at the general's role in the war."―NYMAS Review

"Reexamines the career of a distinguished Confederate cavalry commander who has largely been ignored."―Pelgram (TN) Advocate

"Tucker has provided a solid work on Imboden. No other biography will be necessary in the foreseeable future."―Richmond Times-Dispatch

"Fills a useful role―the account of the life of a Virginian general, dedicated in war and peace to Virginia."―Roanoke Times

"Imboden had a fascinating career, both in and out of the Confederate Army. . . . Students of the Shenandoah Valley campaigns, and those just plain interested in the remarkable lives of the lesser-known military leaders will enjoy this biography."―Signal Flag

"Prof. Tucker has provided a good critical military biography of the man, fitting his career into the wider framework of operations."―The NYMAS Review

"Tucker has provided a good critical military biography of the man, fitting his career into the wider framework of operations."―NYMAS Review

About the Author

Spencer C. Tucker held the John Biggs Chair of Military History at the Virginia Military Institute for six years until his retirement. He is the author of twenty-five books including the award winning "Stephen Decatur: A Life Most Bold and Daring."
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 392 pages
  • Publisher: University Press of Kentucky (November 29, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 081312266X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0813122663
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,864,949 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
While many Confederate leaders, especially those from Virginia have been the subjects of numerous biographies; Brigadier General John Imboden is an exception. For that matter the war in western Virginia gets very little attention, unless of course Stonewall Jackson was there. Hopefully, this book will help to change all that. Spencer Tucker has written a good account of General Imboden's military career that actually does more to enlighten the reader as to the situation in western Virginia during the war than it does anything else. One actually gets more of a feel for Jubal Early than for Imboden even though Early is only a player in this story for a short while. Make no mistake, this is a military biography and Imboden the man will not be found here. For example, the deaths of four of Imboden's five wives are usually covered in no more than two or three sentences each, and his run for Lieutenant Governor during the war doesn't even take up a whole paragraph.
Tucker does do a good job of tracing Imboden's military exploits and calls into question the General's recollections of the war when the evidence is against him. In other words, Tucker is very frank in his observations and Imboden does not come over as a great fighter or leader. The battles are fairly well explained but a few more maps would have been nice. Tucker also seems to have done his research but I can't help but feeling like there is much more to Imboden than is portrayed in this book. It could be that personal correspondence from the General no longer exists but whatever the reason Tucker never seems to get beneath the surface of his subject. The writing style is also fairly dry and the book is a little tedious in places.
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Format: Hardcover
This scholarly biography of Confederate general John D. Imboden is a solid, balanced account, critical when necessary and praiseworthy where appropriate. Although the main emphasis is on Imboden's Civil War exploits, Tucker also covers his post-war years during which Imboden spent much time and energy trying to build up Virginia's coal and iron resources.

Imboden was born in Virginia in 1823. He studied law in college and served in the Virginia legislature for two terms. He organized the Staunton Artillery and led this outfit at First Bull Run in 1861. He was with Jackson in the Shenandoah Valley, seeing action at Cross Keys, Port Republic, and Harpers Ferry. Brevetted a brigadier general in 1863, he led a raid into West Virgina that caused much property damage to Union stores and the B&O Railroad (known as the Imboden Raid). He and his men arrived at Gettysburg on the third day, and protected the retreating army. He captured Charleston, WV, in the fall of 1863, and was in the Shenandoah Valley again in 1864 under Jubal Early. He contracted typhoid late in 1864 and was sent on prison duty to Aiken, SC, until the end of the war. After the war he resumed his law practice in Virginia and was very much involved in the coal and iron industries in the state. He died in 1895.

Tucker's approach is academic (lots of footnotes) and his writing style businesslike. He's thorough, yet interesting (though not absolutely compelling). There are a few maps and illustrations - one wishes for more of both. Tucker reveals accurately and well the workings of the man, but not necessarily the man himself. It's a good, workmanlike biography.
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