Monday, April 5, 2021

Booknotes: No Place for Glory

New Arrival:
No Place for Glory: Major General Robert E. Rodes and the Confederate Defeat at Gettysburg by Robert J. Wynstra (Kent St UP, 2021).

By the time Robert E. Rodes led his division into the fight on the first day of the Battle of Gettysburg, his battlefield performances amid a steady climb up the ranks of the Army of Northern Virginia's high command had already earned him a reputation as one of General's Lee's brightest stars. However, his division's attack on the Oak Hill junction between the right of the Union First Corps and the left of the Eleventh Corps, while ultimately successful, was poorly coordinated from top to bottom and incurred crippling casualties. What happened and why is the subject of Robert Wynstra's new book No Place for Glory: Major General Robert E. Rodes and the Confederate Defeat at Gettysburg.

From the description: "Although his subordinates were guilty of significant blunders [he had some relatively green regiments and his brigade commanders were of decidedly mixed quality], Rodes shared the blame for the disjointed attack that led to the destruction of Alfred Iverson’s brigade on the first day of the battle. His lack of initiative on the following day was regarded by some in the army as much worse. Whether justified or not, they directly faulted him for not supporting Jubal Early’s division in a night attack on Cemetery Hill that nearly succeeded in decisively turning the enemy’s flank."

Wynstra's study reexamines old questions with a new inquiry using fresh sources. More from the description: "The reasons behind Rodes’s flawed performance at Gettysburg have long proven difficult to decipher with any certainty. Because his personal papers were destroyed, primary sources on his role in battle remain sparse. Other than the official reports on the battle, the record of what occurred there is mostly limited to the letters and diaries of his subordinates. In this new study, however, Robert J. Wynstra draws on sources heretofore unexamined, including rare soldiers’ letters published in local newspapers and other firsthand accounts located in small historical societies, to shed light on the reasons behind Rodes’s missteps."

Robert Wynstra is a name that Gettysburg students should already know well through his award-winning 2018 book At the Forefront of Lee's Invasion: Retribution, Plunder, and Clashing Cultures on Richard S. Ewell's Road to Gettysburg. With the Rodes book arriving close on the heels of that one, one wonders whether he has even more Second Corps topics in his future.

No comments:

Post a Comment

If you wish to comment, please sign your name. Otherwise, your submission may be rejected, at the moderator's discretion. Comments containing outside promotions and/or links will be deleted.