cover image Shades of Blue & Gray: An Introductory Military History of the Civil War

Shades of Blue & Gray: An Introductory Military History of the Civil War

Herman Hattaway. University of Missouri Press, $39.95 (296pp) ISBN 978-0-8262-1107-1

In his preface, Hattaway (Why the South Lost the Civil War, How the North Won) notes that his goal was to focus on ""certain military aspects of the American Civil War and to relate them more broadly to technological and managerial realities."" He succeeds admirably, providing the reader with a clear, succinct background of changes in military strategy and armament proceeding from the Napoleonic wars, the Second Seminole War, the Mexican War and the Crimean War before dealing with the Civil War. Well organized and well-written, the parts and chapters move through those years with primary attention to each battle's strategic process and outcome while stressing the importance of technological developments and resultant changes in operational strategy. For example, the gradual adoption of entrenchment defense was necessitated by the longer range and accuracy of new rifles. Despite Hattaway's welcome brevity, the text offers asides that may surprise even seasoned Civil War buffs. For example, in his discussion of Gettysburg, he discusses General Richard S. Ewell's mental state: ""Ewell may even have had severe mental problems... legends persist that he sometimes hallucinated that he was a bird; for hours at a time he would sit in his tent softly chirping."" Throughout his text, Hattaway traces the growth of military professionalism and concludes that wars are inevitable and that only a professional military can prepare for them effectively. Illustrations not seen by PW. History Book Club selection. (May)