Cover image for Civil War generalship : the art of command
Civil War generalship : the art of command
Wood, W. J. (William J.), 1917-
First Da Capo Press edition.
Publication Information:
[Place of publication not identified] : Da Capo Press, 2000.

Physical Description:
xii, 269 pages : illustrations, maps ; 23 cm
General Note:
Originally published: Westport, CT : Greenwood Press, c1997.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
E470 .W877 1997 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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In this unique examination of Civil War leadership, W. J. Wood looks at the tactical and strategic problems that threatened to overwhelm untried Civil War generals and the pragmatic strategies, born of necessity, that they developed to solve them. Focusing on three decisive battles involving six generals, Wood provides the background necessary to understand the problems confronting commanders on both sides of the war, then looks at the campaign of Cedar Mountain, directed by Stonewall Jackson and Nathaniel Banks; the battle of Chickamauga, where Confederate Army leader Braxton Bragg and Union General William Rosecrans faced each other; the battle of Nashville, where Jon Bell Hood led his Southern troops against George H. Thomas and his Union army. Deftly describing the art of war these men developed, an art that provides paradigms for military leaders to this day, Wood demonstrate why Civil War remains a topic of never-diminishing interest.

Author Notes

W. J. Wood (19171501997), was a retired Army lieutenant colonel whose background included not only professional authorship but also combat experience in World War II and the Korean war, a decade spent in professional war gaming for weapons systems analysis at the Army Material Command, and a lifetime studying military history. His books include Battles of the Revolutionary War and Leaders and Battles .

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Wood, an independent military historian with previous combat experience in two wars, has produced an interesting study of the problems and methods of operational command in the Civil War. The book brings a fresh prospective to and complements such classics as Douglas Southall Freeman's Lee's Lieutenants (1944). Wood believes the art of command is essentially pragmatic and highly personalized. He focuses on the strategic and tactical difficulties faced by the principal commanders in three major battles and gives a sharp analysis of their often-fascinating personalities: Jackson and Banks at Cedar Mountain, Bragg and Rosecrans at Chickamauga, and Hood and Thomas at Nashville. Jackson, brilliant yet obsessed with secrecy, almost lost a battle to Banks, the amateur political general. Rosecrans, although gifted, lost his nerve and a battle. Bragg and Hood could conceive a strategic plan but could not execute one, while Thomas, never the brilliant strategist, always accomplished his mission. Despite their diverse abilities, each commander developed his own command methods and "left a legacy of a pragmatic art." Good maps and illustrations. Highly recommended for Civil War collections. All levels. E. M. Thomas; Gordon College

Table of Contents

The Sandwiched War
The American Civil War in Western History
Pre-Civil War American Military Thought "Lessons" from Napoleonic Warfare
Defining an Art of Command Cedar Mountain: Meeting Engagement Stonewall Jackson Plans and Conducts
His Campaign Nathaniel Banks and the Advance to Cedar Mountain
The Battle of Cedar Mountain What Happened at Cedar Mountain?
Chickamauga: Lost Command, Lost Victory Rosecrans and His Chickamauga
Campaign Braxton Bragg, Confederate Strategy, and the Tactical Offensive
The Battle of Chickamauga
The Two Perspectives of Chickamauga Nashville: The Last Great Adventure John B. Hood and Certain Differences in Confederate Strategy
The "Rock of Chickamauga" Prepares a New Kind of Battle
The Battle of Nashville Why
Thomas Won More Than a Victory Reflections