CHANCELLORSVILLE 1863 by Ernest B. Furgurson


The Souls of the Brave
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 Relying primarily on firsthand accounts, Baltimore Sun reporter Furgurson (Hard Right, 1986, etc.), whose great- grandfathers fought on the Confederate side at Chancellorsville, compellingly re-creates Robert E. Lee's bloodiest and most brilliant victory. Furgurson presents the battle as two distinct contests-- arising from Union general Joseph Hooker's conceptually brilliant and well-executed movement across the Rappahannock onto the flank of Lee's outnumbered army at the tiny wilderness hamlet of Chancellorsville, while, at the same time, federal forces under General John Sedgwick fell forcefully on Lee's rear. Furgurson describes how Confederate daring and aggressiveness--specifically that of Stonewall Jackson, who surreptitiously turned the Union right flank and attacked the Union rear--combined with Hooker's striking loss of self-confidence to assure a Confederate victory. While Jackson's surprise evening attack threw the numerically superior Union army into disarray and paralyzed the federal force around Chancellorsville, the confusion it engendered gave a mortal blow to the Confederacy: The indispensable Jackson was fatally shot by his own men, leading Lee to observe that losing Jackson was like losing his right arm. The second prong of the Yankee attack, initially successful, petered out as Sedgwick's 6th Corps was savagely counterattacked and thrown into retreat by Confederate forces under Generals Early and Anderson. Meanwhile, Hooker failed to use cavalry as effectively as did the Confederates, as Union raiders menaced the Confederate capital at Richmond but failed to panic Lee. Furgurson tells the story vividly and lucidly, and, in his heavy reliance on diaries and journals, shows how the determination, self-confidence, bravery, and creativity of individual participants--both officers and private soldiers-- decided the battle. The author rightly describes the Confederate victory at Chancellorsville as the high-water mark of the Confederacy: Never again would Confederate fortunes appear so bright, and Lee so invincible. Superb and definitive. (Fifteen maps.)

Pub Date: Oct. 23rd, 1992
ISBN: 0-394-58301-9
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Knopf
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 1992


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