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Return to Bull Run: The Campaign and Battle of Second Manassas Hardcover – November 1, 1992
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From Publishers Weekly
This comprehensively researched, well-written book represents the definitive account of Robert E. Lee's triumph over Union leader John Pope in the summer of 1862. While Pope, supported by President Lincoln, sought to bring the war home to Virginia, Lee proposed to carry the war to the North. Lee befuddled, then defeated Pope in a campaign of masterful maneuvering that rivaled Chancellorsville as the Army of Northern Virginia's greatest achievement. Hennessey, a National Park Service historian, expertly depicts the horror and confusion of battle, highlighting the difficulties of controlling a Civil War battle once it had begun. Lee's strategic skills, and the capabilities of his principal subordinates James Longstreet and Stonewall Jackson, brought the Confederates onto the field of Second Manassas at the right places and times against a Union army that knew how to fight, but not yet how to win. History Book Club dual main selection.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
This book's rather unimaginative title cloaks a fascinating look at a very important topic: the Second Battle of Bull Run. The battle, fought in August 1862, was a disastrous punctuation to the Union's summer threat to Richmond and facilitated Robert E. Lee's first northern invasion in the fall. Hennessy tells the story well for both scholar and general reader; unfortunately, the battle has been neglected, and such a good book on it is doubly welcome. Particularly interesting are the author's untanglings of the Union Army's egregious performance, orchestrated by its commander, John Pope, a supercilious braggart, and his singularly insubordinate subordinates. This fine book belongs in all libraries. History Book Club main selection.
- Fritz Buckallew, Univ. of Central Oklahoma Lib., Edmond
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Top Customer Reviews
I am a very frequent visitor to the Battlefield as I do not live far away. I dare say I have explored more of that Battlefield than most people ever have - to include getting off the paths and trekking through woods and over fields. With Hennessy's books under my belt I can now actually imagine having been there on both occasions (minus the personal danger of course). And my respect level for the soldiers of both sides has gone up immensely.
While a Southerner, I respect and admire leaders of both sides South - Lee, Cleburne, Jackson, A.P. Hill, Longstreet, Johnston; North - Grant, Thomas, Sherman, Chamberlain, Sheridan). However, I can honestly say that the blundering John Pope of the Northern army got his just due. Pompous (bragged about his military "exploits" in the West), foul-mouthed (used the Lord's name in vain when referring to McDowell), and impatient (Phil Kearney, an able Northern general, tired of Pope's orders for impetuous and fruitless marches that only served to tire the troops).
Hennessy is fair with leaders, both North and South and his narrative is excellent - while, he is obviously a learned man with a deep knowlege of the battle, the author does not bore the reader with tedious details and dry narrative.
The only complaint I have with the book are the maps. While they are of good quality, there could have been more (the book contains about 15 maps and could have had at least 5 more). Additionally, some of the maps only went to the brigade level and in some cases made following troop dispositions difficult when describing specific regiments.
Complaint aside, this book is one of the best Civil War titles I have read and is the definitive resource for the events of August 1862.
With apologies to Chancellorsville, if you want to discover the battle in which Robert E. Lee ACTUALLY came closest to destroying a Union army, then read Return to Bull Run.
Of Lee's battles in the early Civil War, Second Bull Run likely gets the least amount of attention. Sandwiched between the Peninsula Campaign and Antietam it is simply overlooked. Hennessy however in Return to Bull Run shows not only why the battle may be one of Lee's finest but also how the battle severely hurt Lee's campaign into Maryland.
One of the things I like about this book is Hennessy tackles some of the big myths surrounding the battle with solid research. He does a great job from going from the big picture with discussing the overall strategy down to the tactical with interesting stories of the experiences of individual soldiers.
Also Hennessy really impressed me with his writing skills. I wish every Civil War author had Hennessy's talent for keeping the narrative going without getting bogged down once they get into the battle itself. To often authors get so stuck in describing the Xs and Os of the regimental movements that they forget the men involved but Hennessy keeps the story flowing nicely all the way through.
This is a book that any Civil War buff will greatly enjoy reading and will be the definitive book on the battle for a long time to come.
I would recommend this book with no reservations.