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A Glorious Army: Robert E. Lee's Triumph, 1862-1863 Hardcover – April 5, 2011

4.7 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"With admirable skill and flair, Jeffry D. Wert addresses the historic standing of General Lee. . . . Lee is well served by Wert's eloquent and judicious study."

--Philip Terzian, "The Weekly Standard


"Wert's prose is accessible and clear. . . . These battle-by-battle accounts, along with his carefully judged opinions backed up by quoting from diaries and letters at the time or memoirs written later and other sources, will delight mostly those who savor every twist and turn of battle. . . . Wert's judgments are sober and convincing."

--Michael Giltz, "Huffington Post


"Acclaimed Civil War historian Wert, who has written extensively on both Robert E. Lee's army and the Union's Army of the Potomac, brings his lucid literary skills and keen analysis to a close examination of Lee's military character and conduct during the most successful period of his generalship. . . . Wert's book is a page-turner and an essential read for both Civil War history fans and scholars."

--"Library Journal" (starred review)

"Wert succeeds admirably in his quest to provide a fresh perspective on Lee's virtues as the commander of the South's most prominent army."

--Col. Cole C. Kingseed (USA-Ret.), "Army


A Civil War specialist revisits the glory days of one of the most splendid fighting forces ever assembled: the Army of Northern Virginia (ANV).

After the bitter defeat at Gettysburg, the Confederate army, its officer corps severely depleted, never regained the momentum it had achieved since June 1862 when Robert E. Lee assumed command. But what a run they had. At the Seven Days, Second Manassas, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville and even the bloody stalemate at Antietam, the ANV fashioned a brilliant string of military successes that changed the course of the war in the East. In the process, Lee and his gallant army came to embody the Southern cause, keeping alive the possibility against long odds that the Confederacy might survive. Assessing the ANV's legacy, Wert ("Cavalryman of the Lost Cause: A Biography of J.E.B. Stuart," 2008, etc.) eschews the tick-tock of battle in favor of analysis of the big-picture, how the army was led and how the rank and file responded. Nimbly sifting the oftentimes conflicting judgments of a wide array of historians and making vivid use of primary source documents, the author demonstrates how everything--the good and the bad--began with Lee. He immediately reorganized and disciplined the army, improved communications, delegated broad authority to his senior commanders, particularly the steady, reliable James Longstreet and the eccentric, audacious Stonewall Jackson, and relied on a talented cadre of brigade and regimental officers to implement his relentlessly aggressive battle plans. Convinced the South could never prevail relying on a passive, defensive strategy, Lee constantly took the fight to the enemy, even as the battlefield victories bled his forces. Wert covers it all--the blunders, the exceptional maneuvers, the irreparable losses, all the exquisitely difficult choices facing a general whose bold calculations always prevailed until, finally, they didn't.

An energetic, evenhanded assessment that gets at the heart --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Jeffrey D. Wert is the author of eight previous books on Civil War topics, most recently Cavalryman of the Lost Cause and The Sword of Lincoln. His articles and essays on the Civil War have appeared in many publications, including Civil War Times Illustrated, American History Illustrated, and Blue and Gray. A former history teacher at Penns Valley High School, he lives in Centre Hall, Pennsylvania, slightly more than one hour from the battlefield at Gettysburg.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; 1st edition (April 5, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416593349
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416593348
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.5 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,001,331 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By James W. Durney TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 27, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Robert E. Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia occupy a special place in both our history and mythology. For many, this is the American Civil War. Either glorify or demonize, the man and his army are the subject of a library full of books. Jeffery Wert is no stranger as he steps fearlessly into this arena. Books on this subject can draw fire from both sides, placing an author in the middle of an ongoing battle. Wert has an almost lyrical style that is equally informative and fun to read. While not terse, he tells the story without unnecessary words. Add an ability to use respected historians, original sources with his intelligent observations make for an excellent book.
This history covers the time from Lee assuming command outside of Richmond to Gettysburg, an oft-told tale that Wert tells in a fresh vigorous way.
This is not a detailed slog through battles, army politics and supply problems.
This is not a detailed tactical study of the battles.
This is a very solid overview of the months when Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia became the embodiment of the Confederacy. The book maintains a real balance between detail and story. The level of detail adjusts to the needs of the story and never slows the story. This is very necessary, as these are busy months with multiple stories. We focus on the relationship between Lee, his officers and the men. On how they grow together and how they learn the limits of the other.
This is not the mythic story but a hard honest look full of truth. The author maintains a balance between admiration and history. The myth is not allowed to take control but this is the foundation of the myth. Presentation of the battles is from the army perspective.
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Format: Hardcover
The Confederate defeat at the Battle of Gettysburg has often been referred to as the turning point of the American Civil War. Since Robert E. Lee assumed the command, the Army of Northern Virginia won a string of battle victories: the Seven Days, Second Manassas, Antietam (not a victory, but a tactical draw), Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville. Up until its defeat at Gettysburg the Army of Northern Virginia seemed nearly invincible.

So how is it that in mid July 1863, Robert E. Lee's army should find itself defeated and retreating from Pennsylvania back to Virginia? Jeffry D. Wert attempts to answer that question. His book, "A Glorious Army: Robert E. Lee's Triumph, 1862-1863" begins with Robert E. Lee's assumption of the command of the Army of Northern Virginia in June of 1862 and traces through its defeat at Gettysburg. This is not a blow by blow account of each of the battles, but rather it is an amalgamation of scholarly interpretations by noted historians of Lee's generalship, his tactics and his strategy.

Wert distills the insights, opinions and historical interpretations of such noted historians as Gabor Borritt, Peter Carmichael, Thomas Connelly, Gary Gallagher, Joseph Glatthaar, Joseph Harsh, Robert K. Krick, Donald Pfanz, George Rable, Ethan Rafuse, and Steven Woodworth into a single tome. Wert ably demonstrates that Lee's aggressive and daring tactics and his bold strategy, the offensive defense, cost the Army of Virginia its life blood. With each succeeding battle the army's officer corps, as well as its rank and file, was being decimated.

"A Glorious Army" is well researched and Mr. Wert's narrative is easily read. However, its one drawback is his constant references to other historians: "Robert K. Krick has argued . . .
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Format: Hardcover
Robert E. Lee is one of the great military leaders in U.S. history. He was a graduate of West Point - second in his class - and a veteran of the Mexican-American War. Winfield Scott thought so highly of him that he offered Lee the command of the US army when the Civil War began. Yet after thirty two years of military service, Lee resigned and joined his state - Virginia - and the Confederacy. When he assumed command of the soon to be named Army of Northern Virginia in June of 1862, he was still an "unknown" force - nicknamed "Granny Lee" by his troops. He was described to Southern artilleryman Porter Alexander as, "audacity itself". And audacious Lee was - he and his army the focal point of the Confederacy and the Civil War until April 1865 and his surrender at Appomattox.

The author chronicles Lee and his Army of Northern Virginia from June of 1862 until late summer 1863 - the Confederacy's high water mark during the war. This includes the Seven Days Battle, Second Manassas, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville and Gettysburg. During this time Lee was constantly retooling his army and commanders, constantly looking to gain the battlefield initiative, defying military odds by splitting his army for attacks, and up until Gettysburg - winning. Following this strategy, Lee was also losing irreplaceable manpower.

And that's one of the many Robert E. Lee "enigmas" - his short term strategy of an "all-out" victory in one battle - of which he had several - led to the final demise of his command as the South simply didn't have the men or the resources to fight such a war.

The author provides a good military overview of this period of the war from the Confederate perspective - although I found many of the battle scenes confusing - a lot of names and brigades, etc.
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