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To the Gates of Richmond: The Peninsula…

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

by Stephen W. Sears

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373144,753 (4.11)9
The Peninsula campaign of 1862 was the largest campaign of the Civil War. More men were assembled on the Virginia Peninsula for this battle for the capital of the Confederacy than for any other operation of the war. Now Stephen Sears, the award-winning author of Landscape Turned Red, provides the first complete, full-length account of the campaign ever written, a masterly narrative by one of our foremost historians. The Peninsula campaign was General George McClellan's. Grand scheme to advance from Yorktown up the Virginia Peninsula and destroy the Rebel army in its own capital. Though initially successful, McClellan's plans fell through at the gates of Richmond. Assuming command of the Confederate forces, Robert E. Lee split his army and proceeded to deliver a series of hammer blows against the Federals. Though the Confederates were not invariably victorious on the field, Lee's will to fight so surpassed McClellan's that in the end the. Union forces were expelled from the Peninsula. Weaving together narrative, military analysis, and firsthand testimony from the diaries and letters of Union and Confederate soldiers, Stephen Sears has crafted a magisterial history. It is at once a ground-breaking study of the great Civil War engagement, an unforgettable picture of men at war, and a sobering reflection of the role of individuals on the outcome of events.… (more)

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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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For My Mother and Father
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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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