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Richard S. Ewell: A Soldier's Life (Civil War America) Hardcover – April 27, 1998
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Confederate general Richard Ewell has never received the attention he deserves, according to his biographer Donald C. Pfanz. Ewell's many impressive military achievements have gone largely unnoticed, and his few failures--among them arguably blowing an opportunity to turn Gettysburg into a Southern victory--have often served as reasons to blame Confederate losses on anybody but its more revered generals, such as Robert E. Lee. Ewell's greatest accomplishment, suggests Pfanz, was leading third-rate troops in defense of Petersburg when Federal soldiers broke through at Fort Harrison. "Had [Stonewall] Jackson been in charge rather than Ewell, historians would have touted the battle as a military masterpiece. But ... the episode was forgotten. Historians have all but ignored it since." Despite such assessments, Richard S. Ewell: A Soldier's Life is no hagiography; Pfanz cites shortcomings in both Ewell's personality (bad temper) and judgment (at Spotsylvania, for instance). Still, this book is mainly a robust defense of a second-tier general who deserves better than what he's received from other historians.
From Library Journal
Civil War historian Pfanz (The Petersburg Campaign: Abraham Lincoln at City Point, March 20-April 19, 1865) presents a favorable biography of Confederate General Richard S. Ewell. Although covering the full span of Ewell's life, Pfanz focuses most heavily on his Civil War years. He fills the lacunae regarding Ewell, reassessing the command and operations of the man who was Stonewall Jackson's right arm and who was an important, if underrated, military leader, succeeding Jackson to lead the Second Corps at Gettysburg, among other engagements. The author draws upon a number of primary sources and concludes that, overall, Ewell was a capable and successful general. Pfanz successfully conveys the personality, but more social and political contextualization would have been welcomed. Recommended for libraries with large collections of Civil War military history and biographies.?Charles L. Lumpkins, Pennsylvania State Univ., State College
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top Customer Reviews
Second, the terrain is imaginatively and graphically depicted. The author has a real sense of the places and the climate of the times. This is also supported by good made-to-order maps of important locales.
Third, practically every assertion in the book is backed up by solid primary and secondary historical sources. This is done with no intrusion on the readability of the text. No judgment is made without balancing all extant points of view. A real work of moderm scholarship.
Finally, I was surprised at how much I learned about historical personages and battles with which I though I was familiar.
Gen. Ewell is a general that is often overlooked as one of the best generals in the Army of Northern Virginia. After all, the Army had Generals Lee, Longstreet, Jackson, Early, and Stuart. Also, Gen. Ewell has the reputation of losing the battle of Gettysburg since he failed to take Cemetery Hill or Culp's Hill on July 1, 1863. This book explains much of that situation and demonstates why the reputation may be misleading. During Gen. Ewell's tenure under the Command of Gen. Jackson, his performance was almost flawless. However, once he took over the Second Corp., it seems as if he became more timid in his decision making.
This book is very well written and is one that will keep your interest. I have a very difficult time with bios as most do not hold my interest but this one held my interest and then some. I learned not only about the man but also about the history of the Army of Northern virginia. In a civil war bio, I did not want a great deal of background but enough to show the context in which the General come to be so high up in the chain of command. This book provides just enough of Ewell's background before the civil war to give you a very good understanding of his experiences without going into minute detail. Once the book gets into the time of the civil war, it reads much like history of the Army of Northern Virginia and not a bio. This, to me, is what makes this book great.
I recommend this book as a study of the Army of Northern Virginia and about one of the most misunderstood of its high commanders. If you have an interest in the civil war, I highly recommend this book. If you have a particular interest in the Southern aspect of the war, especially in Virginia, this book is a must. You will not be disappointed.
I hope you enjoy.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
On page 326 of the book he discusses the failure of General Robert Rodes to attack Cemetery Hill...Read more