Thursday, November 10, 2016

Booknotes: Failure to Pursue

New Arrival:
Failure to Pursue: How the Escape of Defeated Forces Prolonged the Civil War
by David Frey (McFarland, 2016).

Throughout history, finishing off beaten armies has never been simple. The inability of Civil War armies to effectively pursue has been the subject of much popular debate, both during the war itself and over the past 150 years of armchair criticism of various generals. "Taking a fresh look at the tactics that characterized many major combat actions in the war, this book examines the performance of unsuccessful (sometimes insubordinate) commanders and credits two generals with eventually seeing the need for organized pursuit."

Frey scrutinizes a number of well known campaigns in the book, among them Shiloh, Kentucky, Iuka/Corinth, Stones River, Chattanooga, Atlanta, and Nashville in the West and, in the East, 1st/2nd Bull Run, 1862 in the Valley, the Seven Days, Antietam, Gettysburg, and Appomattox. I haven't had a chance to delve into it yet and am looking forward to reading Frey's analysis. The subject of the retreat-pursuit dynamic is a fascinating one and is rarely explored beyond repeating a few common observations.

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