In an engrossing but largely unpersuasive dual biography, Casdorph (History/Virginia State) argues that the ""close...


LEE AND JACKSON: Confederate Chieftains

In an engrossing but largely unpersuasive dual biography, Casdorph (History/Virginia State) argues that the ""close connection between Lee and Jackson started long before their glory clays upon the fields of northern Virginia""; that ""it was an association, however sporadic, that enabled each man to test the other's mettle""; and that this ""interconnectiveness"" led the two soldiers to their military triumphs. The difficulty with Casdorph's thesis is that, while it is well known that Lee and Jackson were cordial acquaintances before the war and served together in Mexico, the author presents little evidence of a particularly close relationship between the two prior to the Civil War. Lee and Jackson were separated by 17 years (Lee was born in 1807, Jackson in 1824) and, although Captain Lee apparently conducted an examination of Cadet Jackson at West Point in the summer of 1844, there is no indication that either man particularly remarked the other. Casdorph presents no proof of a substantial prewar correspondence between the two; in fact, there is no record before the Civil War of a profound admiration of either man for the other. Indeed, when Jackson applied for a professorship at the Univ. of Virginia, Lee supplied Jackson with a character reference that Casdorph admits was ""not particularly enthusiastic."" The real relationship between the two began when, as a professor at Virginia Military Institute at war's outbreak, Jackson joined his VMI cadets with Lee's army in April 1861. Casdorph gives over the bulk of his account to a superb narrative of the pair's dazzling victories--First Manassas, Seven Days, Fredericksburg--which ended when Jackson was mortally wounded by his own men at Chancellorsville in May 1863. The author is undoubtedly correct when he argues that the ""military loss to Lee and the Confederacy"" occasioned by Jackson's death ""almost defies analysis."" Casdorph presents an excellent account of the war, as well as serviceable biographies of the two warriors, but offers little evidence to support his emphasis on the ""interconnectiveness"" of Lee and Jackson.

Pub Date: April 29, 1992


Page Count: 448

Publisher: Paragon House

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1992