FREDERICKSBURG AND CHANCELLORSVILLE: The Dare Mark Campaign by Daniel E. Sutherland


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A broadly researched, finely detailed, and well-written analysis of the connections linking two pivotal battles in the early part of the Civil War, by Sutherland (Seasons of War; 1995, etc.). The author pairs the battles of Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville, which took place on the southern side of the Rapohanock River in Virginia, and refers to them jointly as the ""Dare Mark"" campaign. (A Confederate soldier referred to the Rapohanock as the dare mark because Union armies dared not cross the river.) Sutherland combines minute strategic scrutiny with a deep knowledge of the personalities involved--notably, Lee and Jackson for the South, and Halleck, Burnside, and Hooker for the North. And he consults a broad range of sources, ranging from soldiers' letters and contemporary newspaper accounts to postwar memoirs. Thus armed, Sutherland is able to place the battles in their broadest political and military contexts. Both battles led to Southern victories, and he examines their consequences, including the accidental death of Thomas ""Stonewall"" Jackson in his own troops' crossfire, Lee's inability to smash Hooker's army, and Lee's drive northward after his victory at Chancellorsville. Much attention is paid to the war's mismanagement by Congress and by various Northern officers and to fascinating partisan efforts to control the Union military. Sutherland, a professor of history at the University of Arkansas, is a deft writer. He identifies the facets of battle (and surrounding events) in a coherent fashion that will allow readers to peer over his shoulder at the larger picture. Though far too detailed in its dealings with military strategy and, this is nonetheless worthy of War-Between-the-States diehards.

Pub Date: Nov. 11th, 1998
Page count: 280pp
Publisher: Univ. of Nebraska