No volume of this valuable series covers a period of more absorbing interest than General Doubleday
's account of Chancellorsville
These were two of the greatest battles of the war, and the last, though not the decisive struggle it is often represented, marked the supreme point of southern effort, and was followed by unmistakable and growing signs of exhaustion.
The book, as we might expect from the character and rank of its author, is a clear and painstaking narrative of events in which he bore a distinguished part.
It is valuable as the carefully prepared statement of a Federal General officer
who was a prominent participant, especially at Gettysburg
, in the great campaign of 1863.
It is well illustrated by fairly good maps, and in this respect contrasts very agreeably with most of the preceding numbers of the series.
's statement of the Federal
movements at Chancellorsville
is clear and good, and he apportions the blame for its disaster there much more justly between Hooker
, and Sedgwick
than does Colonel Dodge
, in his more elaborate and most excellent work on this battle.
There can be no doubt that the overwhelming rout of the Eleventh corps by Jackson
was largely due to Howard
's taking none but the feeblest precautions against a flank attack, and that too in spite of the fact that he knew Jackson
to be moving all day across his front, and had been warned by Hooker
to be on his guard.
Again, though Sedgwick
showed tardiness and lack of enterprise in pushing up from Fredericksburg
, General Doubleday
sees so clearly the immensely greater blunder of Hooker
in lying idle at Chancellorsville
with (besides the troops that had been engaged) “37,000 fresh men” in front of “17,000 worn out men,” while Sedgwick
was being beaten, that he thinks Hooker
must have been incapacitated for command by his wounds of the day before.
He says: “The concussion must have effected his brain.”
is more of annalist than historian, and is of course mainly occupied with the blunders of his own superiors.
He could hardly be expected to describe in fitting terms the splendid strategy of Lee
, the no less magnificent audacity and skill of Jackson
, and the courage and determination of those 60,000 Confederates who throttled “the finest army on the planet,” (as Hooker
with pardonable pride termed it) on the south bank of the Rappahannock
and hurled it, though doubly as numerous, bleeding and powerless beyond that stream.