Book Review: Joseph E. Johnston and the Defense of Richmond

Archives

by Steven H. Newton

Lawrence, Ks.,: University Press of Kansas, 1999. xxiii, 278 pp. Illus, maps, append, notes, bilio., index. $29.95. ISBN:0-7006-0921-0

A somewhat revisionist treatment of Joe Johnston's command of Confederate forces in Virginia in the opening phases of the Peninsular Campaign, until he was wounded at Seven Pines, 31 May 1862, which led to Robert E. Lee's assumption of command.

Observing that heretofore treatments of the campaign were essentially dismissive, seeing Johnston as a relatively ineffective commander, and Lee as the brilliant savior of the Confederate capital, Newton proceeds to demonstrate that, in fact, Johnston was quite effective, marshaling considerable evidence to back his claim. Not only was it Johnston who created what would become the Army of Northern Virginia, complete with Longstreet, Jackson, and all the rest in its senior command slots, but Johnston's operations were much less costly in lives than Lee's. Newton also very correctly observes that it was Johnston's victory at Seven Pines which essentially set the stage for Lee's "emergence" as a commander during the Seven Days, which followed shortly thereafter.

The appendices are valuable, particularly one which addresses the problem of Johnston's manpower resources during the campaign. The work is well documented, and the footnotes are worth reading.

Although it is an important work, Joseph E. Johnston and the Defense of Richmond does fail to address the question of what Johnston would have done if faced by a more aggressive and capable commander than the disappointing George B. McClellan.

Reviewer: A. A. Nofi   


Buy it at Amazon.com




X

ad
0
30

Help Keep Us Soaring

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling. We need your help in reversing that trend. We would like to add 30 new subscribers this month.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close