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Confederate Struggle for Command: General James Longstreet and the First Corps in the West (Williams-Ford Texas A&M University Military History Series) Hardcover – September 1, 2008

4.5 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Confederate Struggle for Command adds an important layer of nuanced understanding to the career and legacy of Lt. Gen. James Longstreet." -McCormick Messenger
(McCormick Messenger 2009-02-12)

"Alexander Mendoza delivers a well-written, very well-researched, and objective analysis of Lieutenant General James Longstreet's leadership in the Western theatre of operations from late 1863 to early 1864. The book is definitely worth reading, especially for scholars of the Confederate high command and southern strategy, but also for those interested in an even-handed interpretation of the events surrounding the 1863 Chattanooga and Knoxville Campaigns. . . Mendoza succeeds in fairly analyzing why Longstreet failed to meet both his and others' expectations when he and his First corps of the Army of Northern Virginia were detached to serve with Braxton Bragg's Army of Tennessee in the late summer of 1863." - Chris Keller, Military History of the Past
(Chris Keller Military History of the Past)

"In his current work, Alexander Mendoza breaks new ground in the debate over Longstreet's abilities and his military acumen...Using a wealth of primary and secondary sources, the author lifts the veil of negativity that has settled over Longstreet's legacy through the decades...He offers a balanced assessment of the general's career in the West and does not gloss over Longstreet's shortcomings. Confederate Struggle for Command is a valuable addition to the scholarship on Longstreet, as it offers a fresh perspective and adds to the debate over the general's overall role in the Civil War. It also offers an interesting glimpse into the dynamics of the Confederate command structure in the West and the ebb and flow of Confederate military politics. For all these reasons, anyone interested in James Longstreet as a commander, or the western theater of the American Civil War, would do well to take a look at this book."--Trudy Eden, The Historian

(Trudy Eden The Historian 2011-04-19)

About the Author

ALEXANDER MENDOZA, assistant professor of history at the University of Texas at Tyler, holds a Ph.D. from Texas Tech University.
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Product Details

  • Series: Williams-Ford Texas A&M University Military History Series (Book 12)
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Texas A&M University Press (September 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1603440526
  • ISBN-13: 978-1603440523
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,460,946 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Daniel Hurley VINE VOICE on March 15, 2009
Format: Hardcover
What is fascinating about Mendoza's book, in my view, is his writings and excellent research for the period after the battle of Chickamauga. Most of the history relating to Chickamauga is well known and Mendoza covers that period quickly on the First Corps' history and the initial transfer to the west. The most interesting parts of the book starts with the much covered telling of the Army of the Tennessee's general staff attempt to rid themselves of Braxton Bragg with President Davis' odd, embarrassing and damaging attempt to stymie Bragg's removal by sustaining Bragg, leading to the fracture of the army's command structure and morale. The book contains relatively even critiques of Longstreet but highlights what appears to be gross errors in retrospect, the worst being the promotion of senior officer Jenkins over Law that causes bitterness within Hood's division that Law never gets over and later seems to include Robertson, also in Hood's division. The loss of Lookout Valley was a major loss in Longstreet's sector contributed to by the conflict between Jenkins and Law but the author's critique of Longstreet I think is a little harsh. The union movement, floating men down the Tennessee on pontoon rafts around Moccasin Point in the middle of the night was quite a feat, allowing a bridgehead and a prompt shuttling of force. I have been to the site and find it incredulous that this movement was undetected by confederate pickets, but recognition has to be given to the Union's audacity and brilliant success. Mendoza shines with his description and documentation of Longstreet's movement to Knoxville ordered by Bragg as Bragg apparently divorces himself from Longstreet.Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
An author's first book presents many problems for the reading public. Since histories do not populate bookstores, we make our buying decision based on title, cover art and the press release, not the best of guides. Winners are rare; losers are more common with OK being the majority. Having spent twenty to forty dollars for OK is not the nicest of feeling. I purchased this book based on the title and deep interest in James Longstreet. Expecting an OK, I am very happy to report this is a winner!
James Longstreet is one of the more controversial Southern generals. Very few are neutral when talking about the man. Both his actions during and after the war-generated controversy. The passage of time has done nothing to diminish the controversy surrounding him. Longstreet's actions in the West are an important part of the controversy, with both sides finding reasons to applaud or condemned him. The author, without talking sides, has written a comprehensive history of this period that is intelligent, accurate and very readable.
First, we are shown Longstreet's association with JE Johnston, Louis Wigfall and Jefferson Davis impact the western campaign. This foundation is vital in understand Longstreet's role in the anti-Bragg faction and in Davis' mishandling of these problems. This is put into context with the readiness of army officers to bypass the chain of command and the use of important political figures. Longstreet was used to this and was no different than his contemporizes when he took part in this.
Second, we have a very good history of I Corps operations in Chattooga and East Tennessee. This is an under reported area which the author places in both a military and political context.
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Format: Hardcover
This book has a good focus in its covering of Longstreet's transfer to the western theater, and his contribution to the Confederate effort there. It covers the period with a moderate level of detail, without boring me with minutia. The strengths are plenty of research, good explainations, and an style of writing that kept my attention. Another positive aspect is Mendoza does not lecture like some of the Lost Cause influenced writers concerning Longstreet, such as Cozzens or Hallock, but he still stays on the path of what Lost Cause thinking of Longstreet seems to demand in the world of Civil War academia. The weakness in this book is a reiteration of what many earlier authors have said; chiefly criticizing Longstreet for how he dealt with Braxton Bragg.

It hurts the credibility of a book when a writer oversteps his or her practical knowledge. Mendoza does this in a few spots in this book. One instance, which I totally disagree with, is at Chickamauga he states that Longstreet made a blunder by missing an opportunity to go through a gap. He calls it a blunder, and then says in the same paragraph it is understandable based upon the densely wooded terrain. So really it was not a blunder because no one could see a gap in the woods? As a reader I wondered where he came up with this unfounded criticism. Looking at the notes one sees they are all secondary source opinions of earlier authors.

At Chattanooga Mendoza also thinks that Longstreet was supposed to have prevented the Union forces from coming into Lookout Valley, and stop the Union from setting up a supply line through there. Bragg was the army commander, so that was his job to make a decision about what to do about the "Cracker Line." Not Longstreet's. Again, Mendoza followed what earlier secondary sources claim.
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