Many students of the Civil War have concluded that the overstudied conflict in the Eastern Theater resulted only in an unwinnable stalemate. For that reason they are now looking to the West for more precise explanations of the Confederates' failure to win independence. To editors Lawrence Hewitt and Arthur Bergeron, the answers lie with the generals who waged a calamitous war that stretched across nine states and left a long trail of bloody battlefields, surrendered fortresses, burned cities, wrecked infrastructure, and, ultimately, a lost cause.
For this book, which follows an earlier volume of previously published essays, Hewitt and Bergeron have enlisted ten gifted historians--among them James M. Prichard, Terrence J. Winschel, Craig Symonds, and Stephen Davis--to produce original essays, based on the latest scholarship, that examine the careers and missteps of several of the Western Theater's key Rebel commanders. Among the important topics covered are George B. Crittenden's declining fortunes in the Confederate ranks, Earl Van Dorn's limited prewar military experience and its effect on his performance in the Baton Rouge Campaign of 1862, Joseph Johnston's role in the fall of Vicksburg, and how James Longstreet and Braxton Bragg's failure to secure Chattanooga paved the way for the Federals' push into Georgia.
Confederate Generals in the Western Theater will ultimately comprise several volumes that promise a host of provocative new insights into not only the South's ill-fated campaigns in the West but also the eventual outcome of the larger conflict.
Lawrence Lee Hewitt is professor of history emeritus at Southeastern Louisiana University. A recipient of SLU's President's Award for Excellence in Research and the Charles L. Dufour Award for outstanding achievements in preserving the heritage of the American Civil War, he is a former managing editor of North & South. His publications include Port Hudson: Confederate Bastion on the Mississippi.
Arthur W. Bergeron Jr. is a reference historian with the United States Army Military History Institute and a past president of the Louisiana Historical Association. Among his earlier books are Confederate Mobile and A Thrilling Narrative: The Memoir of a Southern Unionist.