Sunday, April 26, 2020

Book News: Dreams of Victory

As is the case with most high-ranking Civil War generals, the word on P.G.T. Beauregard's record remains pretty mixed. Thinking back to my earliest forays into Civil War history, a common portrayal of Beauregard in books was that of a flamboyant military fantasist who won at Manassas (perhaps in spite of himself) but then ruined his reputation the following year at the Battle of Shiloh and evacuation of Corinth. On the other hand, he's generally received decent marks for his Charleston work, and a number of very recent Richmond-Petersburg Campaign studies have praised his handling of the defenses of Petersburg and the rail line connecting it to Richmond. Larry Daniel's new exploration of why the Army of Tennessee failed [my review] repeatedly criticized the Davis administration for not returning Beauregard to command.

All this brings to mind that we've perhaps reached a good point for a new reassessment of the general's Civil War career, maybe something along the lines of Earl Hess's thought-provoking reconsideration of a much more maligned Confederate army commander (Braxton Bragg). Considering the general's stature, it is mighty strange that there hasn't been a major new Beauregard biography since T. Harry Williams's P.G.T. Beauregard: Napoleon in Gray was published way back in 1955.

Meanwhile, to tide us over until such an event occurs, the Emerging Civil War series and publisher Savas Beatie plan to put out a short biographical treatment. From the description available, Sean Chick's Dreams of Victory: General P.G.T. Beauregard in the Civil War (2020) will present its subject's life as a intriguing bundle of personal and professional contradictions, successes, and failures. On balance, it does appear that the general's Civil War career left a largely positive impression on the author. According to Chick, "(o)utside of Lee, he was the South’s most consistently successful commander, winning at Bull Run, defending Charleston in 1864, and defeating Benjamin Butler at Bermuda Hundred and Ulysses Grant and George Meade at Petersburg. Yet, he lived his life in the shadow of his one major defeat: Shiloh." I'm looking forward to reading it.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Drew. I have about ten projects I am pitching or in development I have put together. One is a Beauregard bio. More soon.


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