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To the Gates of Richmond: The Peninsula…
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To the Gates of Richmond: The Peninsula Campaign (1992)

by Stephen W. Sears

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Robert E. Lee's overly ambitious tactics, poorly drafted orders, and the Army of Northern Virginia's sloppy execution of his battle plans, are highlighted in Stephen W. Sears's history of the Peninsula Campaign in "To the Gates of Richmond." The problems which plagued Lee's army are compared with the arrogant bombasts and cowering timidity of "the young Napoleon," Gen. George B. McClellan. The author recounts McClellan's masterful strategy of making an amphibious landing on the lower Virginia peninsula, slowly and seemingly inexoribly advancing up that peninsula until his army was close enough to Richmond to hear the church bells and shows how Lee's ambitious and aggressive attacks caused McClellan to lose all nerve and to "snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Relying on personal accounts of both common soldiers and ranking officers, Sears illustrates the hapless incompetence of both armies in this early campaign, the largest in terms of numbers of troops that would occur during the Civil War. History tells us that the Army of Northern Virginia and its legendary campaign would learn from their mistakes and improve, while McClellan would not and would be cast aside by Lincoln and history. Sears is a gifted author and this is an excellent and balanced account of an important seminal campaign of the American Civil War. ( )
  Richard7920 | Jul 18, 2018 |
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"The enemy are at the gates. Who will take the lead and act, act, act?" the Richmond Dispatch pleaded on May 16, 1862,
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