Books by Jeffry D. Wert

Released: Nov. 6, 2018

"Diverse character studies that give a broad view of the sweeping economic revolutions of the era."
Popular history of the economy of the Civil War era, a transformative time on the commercial/financial as much as the military fronts. Read full book review >
A GLORIOUS ARMY by Jeffry D. Wert
Released: April 5, 2011

A Civil War specialist revisits the glory days of one of the most splendid fighting forces ever assembled: the Army of Northern Virginia (ANV). Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 2008

"A worthy work that draws on previously unknown correspondence to give a lively, from-the-saddle view of life as a rebel horseman."
A sturdy life of the Confederacy's knight-errant, "the bold and dashing cavalier" who evoked chivalry in a theater of carnage and slaughter. Read full book review >
Released: April 1, 2005

"An engaging study, particularly for students of Civil War military history—and of leadership."
A carefully argued account of "the largest army in American history"—and one that barely survived its commanders. Read full book review >
Released: July 3, 2001

"A noteworthy addition to the groaning shelves of Gettysburg books: superb narrative enriched in equal measure by careful tactical judgment and vigorous storytelling."
From Civil War historian Wert (A Brotherhood of Valor, 1999, etc.), an astute mixture of strategic analysis and common soldiers' narratives detailing the 24 climactic hours on which the Union hinged. Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 1, 1999

A masterful and engaging account of the Civil War from the perspective of the soldiers who fought it, by the author of Custer (1996) and General James Longstreet (1993). Wert examines two brigades, one each from North and South, that found themselves at such battles as Manassas Junction (Bull Run), Fredericksburg, Sharpsburg (Antietam), Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg—battles that were vividly recounted at the time in memoirs, letters, and other firsthand reports. The Stonewall Brigade, from Virginia, received its name because of the leadership of Brig. General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson; the Iron Brigade was made up of men from Wisconsin and Michigan. Wert covers the recruitment, training, and initial deployment of each unit. But more important than these military details is the light he sheds on the reasons why men are drawn to fight in a war that is sure to be bloody (—We are in the midst of a great revolution," wrote one Southern officer of his people's fight "to maintain their rights—). Throughout the account, the words of enlisted men and officers dominate the narrative, and this firsthand testimony helps create a history that is far more vivid than any remote account could be. Wert skillfully interjects his own voice only when needed to guide the tale along. The voices he brings back to tell of the war's progress and its rigors are voices of frustration (aimed at their leaders), fear, and homesickness mixed in with a healthy dose of everyday concerns; in their immediacy, they leap across the gap of 130 years that separates us from their era. Wert writes history the way it ought to be written: with clear prose, a deep understanding of his sources, and with the voices of ordinary men—all of which make the events as real to us as if they had only happened yesterday. (13 maps, not seen) Read full book review >
Released: June 12, 1996

An admiring and dutiful account of the military exploits of the Civil War hero and leader of the Seventh Cavalry at the ill- fated battle of the Little Bighorn. Civil War historian Wert (General James Longstreet, 1993) crafts a well-documented (at times excessively so) portrait of a boyish, vain, unfailingly heroic figure who might never have graduated from West Point had there not been a war. By 1863, however, Custer, then 23, had attained the rank of brigadier general in the Union army, winning national acclaim for his fearlessness in combat. A dashing cavalryman, Custer earned the love of his subordinates and the enmity of many fellow officers, a pattern that persisted throughout his soldiering life. While Wert's voluminously detailed recounting of Custer's tactical heroics may overwhelm nonCivil War buffs,, the author ably counters Custer's primary identification as the tragic victim of 1876. Custer's long- suffering mate, Libbie, is revealed here as a stout-hearted army wife, resigned to a childless marriage (Custer contracted gonorrhea immediately after entering West Point), uncomplainingly accompanying her husband to remote frontier posts. Custer's story, as well as Wert's writing, gets more exciting as the book approaches its inevitable climax. As the commander of the Seventh Cavalry, Custer once more proved his mettle by battling the Plains Indians, but his aggressive tactics, as Wert makes clear, finally spelled his doom, as well as the deaths of 262 other soldiers at the hands of some 2,000 Sioux warriors. Lamenting the way in which the battle has since obscured the life, Wert writes that Custer ``has become the singular symbol of the nation's guilt over its sad history of continental conquest. The loser at Little Big Horn has overshadowed the excellent Civil War general.' This accessible biography presents a much fuller historical picture of this near-mythic American hero. (maps, not seen) (Book- of-the-Month Club alternate/History Book Club main selection) Read full book review >
Released: Nov. 1, 1993

A carefully argued account of the general whom Robert E. Lee affectionately called ``my old war horse''—the same man who in the mythology of the Lost Cause became the scapegoat for the failure of Confederate arms at Gettysburg. Commander of the First Corps in Lee's Army of Northern Virginia, Longstreet (1821-1904) was not only Lee's senior officer but his most reliable—even more so, Wert (Mosby's Rangers, 1990) says, than Stonewall Jackson. Described by a colleague as ``a rock in steadiness when sometimes in battle the world seemed flying to pieces,'' Longstreet served at First and Second Manassas, the Seven Days campaign, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chicamauga, the Wilderness, and the surrender at Appomattox. Lee depended on his counsel, except at Gettysburg, when three times Lee rejected Longstreet's advice not to make the fateful frontal assault. Although ostensibly covering Longstreet's entire life, Wert concentrates on the general's Civil War record, explaining the personality quirks and decisions that made the general, so fearless and beloved during the war, such a lightning rod of controversy in its aftermath. Longstreet excelled at Second Manassas, as well as at Fredericksburg, where his network of trenches, fieldworks, and artillery sealed the doom of thousands of Federals. But unlike Lee, Longstreet questioned the value of the tactical offensive and would risk his men's lives only in a carefully planned attacks with reasonable chances for success. Wert shows that Longstreet's warnings of disaster at Gettysburg were borne out—and he demonstrates that, except for one brief lapse, Longstreet carried out Lee's orders vigorously despite his misgivings. Longstreet's troubles resulted from his postwar decision to join the Republican Party—which made him the Benedict Arnold of the South—and his too-late, too-self-serving defense of his record in his memoirs. A fair, though not uncritical, reappraisal of one of the Civil War's great but maligned soldiers. (Twelve maps, 16 pp. of b&w photographs—not seen) Read full book review >