Monday, April 18, 2016

Booknotes: Seizing Destiny

New Arrival:
Seizing Destiny: The Army of the Potomac's "Valley Forge" and the Civil War Winter that Saved the Union by Albert Z. Conner and Chris Mackowski (Savas Beatie, 2016).

Joe Hooker's winter resurrection of the Army of the Potomac is talked about in many studies but details are generally sparse and no one has written an entire book on the episode until now. Seizing Destiny describes how Hooker took an army demoralized by the Fredericksburg disaster, political scheming, and command infighting, and seemingly crippled by desertion and disease, and transformed it within a few short months into a splendid fighting force at top strength. Conner and Mackowski's book demonstrates Fighting Joe at his best, when he shocked many with his "amazing brilliance for organization and leadership."
"With Chief of Staff Dan Butterfield working alongside him, Hooker literally rebuilt the army from the bottom up. In addition to instituting vital logistical, ordnance, and administrative reforms, he insisted on proper troop care and rigorous inspections and battle drills. Hooker doled out promotions and furloughs by merit, conducted large-scale raids, streamlined the army’s command and control, and fielded a new cavalry corps and military intelligence organization.

Hooker’s war on poor discipline and harsh conditions revitalized a dying army and instilled individual and unit pride. During this 93-day resurgence, the Army of the Potomac reversed its fortunes and set itself on the path to ultimate victory."
The authors rank the achievement of this reversal up there with that of Washington's army at Valley Forge, noting that many at the time made the same comparison.

1 comment:

  1. Thank for the post, Drew. It is quite a book, and we are happy with it.

    It was a long and true labor of love for Al Conner, a decorated Vietnam combat veteran who is terminally ill, so I brought in Chris to help him with final edits, re-writes, and the like. It proved a good match. "Seizing Destiny" fills a gap well in the AOP's coverage and we hope readers think so, too.


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