Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Booknotes: Meade and Lee at Bristoe Station

New Arrival:
Meade and Lee at Bristoe Station: The Problems of Command and Strategy after Gettysburg, from Brandy Station to the Buckland Races, August 1 to October 31, 1863 by Jeffrey Wm. Hunt (Savas Beatie, 2019).

Meade and Lee at Bristoe Station: The Problems of Command and Strategy after Gettysburg, from Brandy Station to the Buckland Races, August 1 to October 31, 1863 is the middle volume in Jeffrey Hunt's planned trilogy covering the war in the East between the Gettysburg retreat/pursuit and the launching of the Overland Campaign in 1864. This is a significant project as the period, though receiving more attention lately, has been one of the more neglected ones for the war's most thoroughly documented theater. The first volume, Meade and Lee After Gettysburg (2017), meticulously recounted the fortnight of events and decision making between Lee's escape across the Potomac to the establishment of a new defensive line along the upper Rappahannock. Both Union and Confederate perspectives are accorded equal weight in the narrative. A substantially thicker study, this book examines a much longer period of active infantry and cavalry maneuvering, its centerpiece being the Bristoe Campaign.

Even after the horrendous losses at Gettysburg, both armies were diminished further by the need to reinforce the West. "Despite these reductions, the aggressive Lee assumed the strategic offensive against his more careful Northern opponent, who was also busy waging a rearguard action against the politicians in Washington." As an item of further interest, and as mentioned in the previous book, this campaign season was the only one conducted by Meade as a truly independent army commander.

Meade and Lee at Bristoe Station "is a fast-paced, dynamic account of how the Army of Northern Virginia carried the war above the Rappahannock once more in an effort to retrieve the laurels lost in Pennsylvania. When the opportunity beckoned Lee took it, knocking Meade back on his heels with a threat to his army as serious as the one Pope had endured a year earlier. As Lee quickly learned again, A. P. Hill was no Stonewall Jackson, and with Longstreet away Lee’s cudgel was no longer as mighty as he wished. The high tide of the campaign ebbed at Bristoe Station with a signal Confederate defeat. The next move was now up to Meade." Hunt's work is "is grounded upon official reports, regimental histories, letters, newspapers, and other archival sources. Together, they provide a day-by-day account of the fascinating high-stakes affair during this three-month period."

Click here to read my review of the first volume.

4 comments:

  1. I'm excited to begin reading this trilogy. Along with Rhea's Overland Campaign series and (eventually) Greene's Petersburg series, we will have an unbroken string of excellent works covering the main part of the Eastern theater post-Gettysburg through to Lee's retreat.

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  2. Been looking forward to this second volume from Mr. Hunt. I found his first volume very enjoyable.

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  3. Thanks for this, Drew. I hope those of you who read vol. 1 have or will soon leave a review online as it really helps the author, the publisher, and potential readers.

    This trilogy arrived in one long manuscript, and we decided to divide it up into three volumes. It is an important work, and we are pleased to work with Jeff to make it a reality.

    Ted

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  4. Drew, Thanks for making note of Volume 2's release. I appreciate the kind comments from you and your readers about Meade and Lee After Gettysburg and hope that all of you enjoy this volume equally well. Volume 3: Meade and Lee at Mine Run is already in the works! Best Regards, Jeff Hunt

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