RICHARD S. EWELL by Donald C. Pfanz


A Soldier's Life
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The adventurous life of one of Lee’s dashing lieutenants, a man who distinguished himself in the Mexican War as a cavalry officer and in the Civil War as Stonewall Jackson’s “right arm.” Pfanz, a Civil War historian, portrays a man of strong character, brave, generous, and a fighting soldier, albeit seen as eccentric, profane, and testy by his subordinates. He was often feared more than admired. Ewell’s brilliant victories at Front Royal and Winchester under Jackson in the Shenandoah Valley brought him early fame and swift promotion to lieutenant general. He succeeded to command of the Second Corps after Jackson’s death, becoming the third-highest ranking officer in the Confederate Army, after Lee and Longstreet. Ewell’s reputation continued to grow in the Seven Days battles outside Richmond and at Cedar Mountain. After losing a leg in battle, Pfanz notes, Ewell, strongly influenced by the charismatic Jackson’s deep religious beliefs, accepted Christianity. He married an old flame, and both events were viewed by some of his fellow officers as having a negative effect on his fighting spirit. Ewell was criticized by Lee after the disastrous defeat at Gettysburg. Pfanz’s research finds that Ewell, although failing to attack Cemetery Ridge, did in fact do his best to follow Lee’s ambiguous orders. Though removed from high command, Ewell later performed brilliantly in the Battle of the Wilderness, a feat largely ignored by historians. A shrewd, highly readable, and exhaustively researched account that restores Ewell’s reputation as a skilled commander and one who stubbornly gave his all for the Lost Cause. (photos, not seen)

Pub Date: April 27th, 1998
ISBN: 0-8078-2389-9
Page count: 672pp
Publisher: Univ. of North Carolina
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 1998