cover image Lost Victories: The Military Genius of Stonewall Jackson

Lost Victories: The Military Genius of Stonewall Jackson

Bevin Alexander. Henry Holt & Company, $30 (350pp) ISBN 978-0-8050-1830-1

Alexander ( Korea: The First War We Lost ) debuts as a Civil War historian by asserting that Stonewall Jackson, rather than Robert E. Lee, possessed the strategic insight that might have won Confederate independence. Jackson initially advocated striking at the Union's will by invading the North; when neither Lee nor Jefferson Davis accepted this concept, Jackson concentrated on plans to destroy the Union army. Here too he was repeatedly frustrated, according to Alexander, by Lee's limited strategic insight and tendency to accept pitched battles whose losses the Confederacy could not afford. Only at Chancellorsville in 1863 did Lee accede to Jackson's bold plan, which might have annihilated the Army of the Potomac had Jackson not been mortally wounded. Alexander's critique of Lee, and his belief that decisive battles were possible under Civil War conditions, are debatable. Nevertheless this revisionist analysis merits the attention of Civil War students. (Nov.)