Sunday, March 4, 2018

Book News: Union Command Failure in the Shenandoah

Though David Powell continues to author works related to Chickamauga-Chattanooga, I will be very interested in discovering what his research and writing interests will be going forward. Given that he's a VMI grad, it's not surprising that his next major study will be Union Command Failure in the Shenandoah: Major General Franz Sigel and the War in the Valley of Virginia, May 1864 (Savas Beatie, 2018).

The Battle of New Market has been well documented over the years, with the most recent and best account being Charles Knight's Valley Thunder (2010). Powell's book posits that much of the focus remains on the Confederate victory (especially the famous contribution to it from the VMI cadets) and not enough attention has been paid to the larger picture and the Union side of things.

According to the description: "VMI’s presence and dramatic role in the fighting ensured that New Market would never be forgotten, but pushed other aspects of this interesting and important campaign into the back seat of history. ... "Previous works have focused on the Confederate side of the battle, using Sigel’s incompetence as sufficient excuse to explain why the Federals were defeated. This methodology, however, neglects the other important factors that contributed to the ruin of Grant’s scheme in the Valley." Aimed toward addressing this deficiency, "Union Command Failure in the Shenandoah delves into all the issues, analyzing the campaign from an operational standpoint." As for what these other issues might be (or rather which ones Powell believes are most important), we'll have to wait and find out.

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