|About the Book|
This book challenges the general view that Robert E. Lee was a military genius who staved off inevitable Confederate defeat against insurmountable odds. Instead, the author contends that Lee was responsible for the Souths loss in a war it could have won.Instead, as this book demonstrates, Lee unnecessarily went for the win, squandered his irreplaceable troops, and weakened his army so badly that military defeat became inevitable. It describes how Lees army took 80,000 casualties in Lees first fourteen months of command-while imposing 73,000 casualties on his opponents. With the Confederacy outnumbered four to one, Lees aggressive strategy and tactics proved to be suicidal. Also described arc Lees failure to take charge of the battlefield (such as on the second day of Gettysburg), his overly complex and ineffective battle plans (such as those at Antietam and during the Seven Days campaign), and his vague and ambiguous orders (such as those that deprived him of Jeb Stuarts services for most of Gettysburg).Bonekemper looks beyond Lees battles in the East and describes how Lees Virginia-first myopia played a major role in crucial Confederate failures in the West. He itemizes Lees refusals to provide reinforcements for Vicksburg or Tennessee in mid-1863, his causing James Longstreet to arrive at Chickamauga with only a third of his troops, his idea to move Longstreet away from Chattanooga just before Grants troops broke through the undeemanned Confederates there, and his failure to reinforce Atlanta in the critical months before the 1864 presidential election.Bonekemper argues that Lees ultimate failure was his prolonging of the hopeless and bloody slaughter even afterUnion victory had been ensured by a series of events: the fall of Atlanta, the re-election of Lincoln, and the fall of Petersburg and Richmond.Finally, the author explores historians treatment of Lee, including the deification of him by failed Confederate generals attempting to resurrect their own reputations. Readers will not fred themselves feeling neutral about this stinging critique of the hero of The Lost Cause.