Book Review: Southern Strategies: Why the Confederacy Failed


by Christian B. Keller, editor

Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2021. Pp. iv, 271. Illus., maps, diagr., notes, index. $45.00. ISBN: 0700632182

Exploring the Roots of Confederate Failure

The six essays in this interesting volume, each by a scholar having some connection with the Army War College, examine the Confederacy’s war making on the basis of “DIME”, that is how Confederate leadership used the diplomatic, informational, military, and economic resources available to pursue the war.

Individual papers look at the Valley Campaign of 1862, economic and fiscal policy, intelligence failure during the Maryland Campaign of 1862, the diplomatic front, the assumptions underlying the Gettysburg Campaign, and the lack of interest in the Trans-Mississippi theatre.

Two essays fall a bit short. That on the economics of cotton and secession fails to note that Southern arrogance over their control of cotton had by the late ‘50s prompted the British to go looking elsewhere (and cotton was running 10 cents a pound, not a bale!). In addition, the paper on Gettysburg paper seems rather sympathetic to Robert E. Lee, not fully considering the option of going west, which proved very successful later that same year, and suggesting Ewell was wrong in not attacking Cemetery Hill on the night of July 1st, where most recent scholarships argues otherwise

While Southern Strategies is of value primarily to the serious scholar of the war, who will likely find some conclusions arguable, several of these papers may be of interest to the arm chair historian as well.




Note: Southern Strategies is also available in several e-editions.


StrategyPage reviews are published in cooperation with the New York Military Affairs Symposium (

Reviewer: A.A. Nofi, Review Editor   

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