Monday, July 19, 2021

Booknotes: Strategies of North and South

New Arrival:
Strategies of North and South: A Comparative Analysis of the Union and Confederate Campaigns by Gerald L. Earley (McFarland, 2021).

From the description: "Since the Antebellum days there has been a tendency to view the South as martially superior to the North. In the years leading up to the Civil War, Southern elites viewed Confederate soldiers as gallant cavaliers, their Northern enemies as mere brutish inductees.

"An effort to give an unbiased appraisal," Strategies of North and South: A Comparative Analysis of the Union and Confederate Campaigns "investigates the validity of this perception, examining the reasoning behind the belief in Southern military supremacy, why the South expected to win, and offering an cultural comparison of the antebellum North and South. The author evaluates command leadership, battle efficiency, variables affecting the outcomes of battles and campaigns, and which side faced the more difficult path to victory and demonstrated superior strategy."

The book begins with a pair of chapters that examine antebellum and secession period perceptions of the martial prowess and traditions of each section. This is followed by a year by year analysis of campaigns and battles "with a view of delivering a non-biased assessment of performance as well as outcomes" that "takes into account the challenges and circumstances encountered during the course of the war" (pg. 2). The author readily admits that his approach (campaigns are selected "based on their relevance to the book's objective") is "inherently subjective." It's still unclear from reading the preface and description exactly how the author's analytical framework stands out from the crowd, but the topic interests me more than enough to give it a whirl to find out.

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