Cover image for Jefferson Davis's generals
Jefferson Davis's generals
Boritt, G. S., 1940-
Publication Information:
New York : Oxford University Press, 1999.
Physical Description:
xvii, 217 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 22 cm
General Note:
"Gettysburg Civil War Institute books."
Reading Level:
1420 Lexile.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
E470 .D38 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Confederate General P. G. T. Beauregard once wrote that "no people ever warred for independence with more relative advantages than the Confederates." If there was any doubt as to what Beauregard sought to imply, he later chose to spell it out: the failure of the Confederacy lay with theConfederate president Jefferson Davis. In Jefferson Davis' Generals, a team of the nation's most distinguished Civil War historians present fascinating examinations of the men who led the South through our nation's bloodiest conflict, focusing in particular on Jefferson Davis' relationships with five key generals who held independentcommands: Joseph E. Johnston, Robert E. Lee, P. G. T. Beauregard, Braxton Bragg, and John Bell Hood. Craig Symonds examines the underlying implications of a withering trust between Johnston and his friend Jefferson Davis. And was there really harmony between Davis and Robert E. Lee? A tenuousharmony at best, according to Emory Thomas. Michael Parrish explores how Beauregard and Davis worked through a deep and mutual loathing, while Steven E. Woodworth and Herman Hattaway make contrasting evaluations of the competence of Generals Braxton Bragg and John Bell Hood. Taking a differentangle on Davis' ill-fated commanders, Lesley Gordon probes the private side of war through the roles of the generals' wives, and Harold Holzer investigates public perceptions of the Confederate leadership through printed images created by artists of the day. Pulitzer Prize-winner James M.McPherson's final chapter ties the individual essays together and offers a new perspective on Confederate strategy as a whole. Jefferson Davis' Generals provides stimulating new insights into one of the most vociferously debated topics in Civil War history.

Author Notes

Gabor S. Boritt is Director of the Civil War Institute and Fluhrer Professor of Civil War Studies at Gettysburg College. This is his seventh volume in the Gettysburg Civil War Institute Books series, published by Oxford University Press.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

In this collection of essays, a cross-section of Civil War historians examine the actions of five prominent Confederate generals, with particular emphasis placed on their relationship with Jefferson Davis. Davis, a West Point graduate, had a tendency to meddle directly in military matters; as some of these essays indicate, this led to chronic friction between him and some of his commanders. For example, Craig Symonds details how the constant squabbling between Davis and Joe Johnston hindered the defense of Atlanta. When Davis replaced Johnston with a more compliant John Bell Hood, Herman Hattaway argues convincingly that Hood's "aggressiveness" (or recklessness) virtually destroyed the effectiveness of the Army of the Tennessee. Boritt, director of the Civil War Institute at Gettysburg, has compiled well-written essays that will provide Civil War buffs with a variety of perspectives on a long-running controversy. --Jay Freeman

Library Journal Review

In this new edited work from Boritt (Why the Civil War Came, Oxford Univ., 1996), eight essayists catalog Confederate States of America president Jefferson Davis's personality flaws and his dysfunctional relationships with his five commanders. A study of Davis and Gen. Joseph E. Johnston shows them at odds over conflicting strategies, loss of mutual confidence and respect, and a breakdown of communication. Pierre Beauregard's hatred of Davis spanned the war, and yet the general willingly cooperated with his president. Braxton Bragg's western campaign suffered from executive meddling, hostile subordinates, and an overabundance of Davis cronies on his staff. John Bell Hood is seen as the incompetent beneficiary of the president's favoritism. Surprisingly, a final contribution by historian James McPherson deflates the book's argument, contending that battlefield strategy far outweighed personalities. While this is a worthy addition to Civil War historiography, the fine sections on the role of the generals' wives and Davis iconography could have been more effectively integrated, and in the summary chapter the contributors appear to be in a civil war of their own making concerning the book's thesis. Recommended for public and academic libraries.ÄJohn Carver Edwards, Univ. of Georgia Libs., Athens (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Introductionp. xi
1 A Fatal Relationship: Davis and Johnston at Warp. 3
3 Jeff Davis Rules: General Beauregard and the Sanctity of Civilian Authority in the Confederacyp. 46
4 Davis, Bragg, and Confederate Command in the Westp. 65
5 The General Whom the President Elevated Too High: Davis and John Bell Hoodp. 84
6 """"To Comfort, to Counsel, to Cure"""": Davis, Wives, and Generalsp. 104
7 The Image of Jefferson Davis as Commander in Chiefp. 129
8 Was the Best Defense A Good Offense? Jefferson Davis and Confederate Strategiesp. 156
Notesp. 177
For Further Reading: A Bibliographyp. 197
Contributorsp. 215