The following is the Editor’s Letter from Chancellorsville Pt.2, Volume 29, #5
Lee’s Greatest Victory
The reaction to last issue’s part one of a two-issue treatment of Chancellorsville, Blue & Gray’s choice to kick off the 1863 Civil War Sesquicentennial commemoration, has been highly favorable, and a curiosity to some readers. Longtime subscribers, some as far back as Vol. I, #1, were surprised to learn, or to realize, that during the past 30 years we had never done a feature on the battle.
Volume XXIX Issue #5 • An Excerpt From:
Action from May 3-6, 1863
by Frank A. O’Reilly
Gen. Robert E. Lee faced a monumental crisis on the grim morning of May 3, 1863—one of the darkest Sundays in American military history. Lt. Gen. Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson’s brilliant flank attack at Chancellorsville on May 2 had created an opportunity for Lee to either escape his opponent’s overwhelming clutches, or dare to win the battle decisively right then, right there. At the same time, Lee knew he was weaker and more vulnerable than ever before. He had divided his small army into three parts: two divisions (McLaws’ and Anderson’s) of Lt. Gen. James Longstreet’s corps, under Lee’s direct control; Maj. Gen. Jubal A. Early’s command holding the line at Fredericksburg; and Jackson’s forces to the west. Lee’s command structure was also in turmoil; in short, Lee had no corps commanders. Longstreet’s corps, less two divisions, had been sent to southeast Virginia on detached duty, and Stonewall Jackson had been felled by the mistaken fire of his own men. Stonewall’s replacement, Maj. Gen. Ambrose Powell Hill, also had been hit and had to relinquish command. Maj. Gen. James Ewell Brown “Jeb” Stuart of the cavalry now commanded Jackson’s infantry by virtue of his rank. It remained to be seen what kind of corps leader the cavalier would make.
The following is the Editor’s Letter from Missionary Ridge, Volume 29, #6
The topography in the Chattanooga area makes any campaign study fun and fascinating and tricky: a twisting river with numerous shallows; creeks narrow and deep; mountains and high ridges with gaps and rugged slopes; intermittent swamps and farmland and town features; treacherous roads and trails; railroads and tunnels and beanpole-and-cornstalk bridges—it’s an engineer officer’s nightmare. After five issues on the Chickamauga Campaign and one on the Tullahoma Campaign, one might think I’d be worn out with Chattanooga. But I just can’t stop mappin’ the place.
Volume XXIX Issue #6 • An Excerpt From:
by Wiley Sword
Amid the eerie stillness of sunrise on the morning of November 25, 1863, a Union private contemplated the prospect of battle that lay before him. “[A] soldier intuitively knows that he will soon be called upon for bloody work,” he wrote nervously. With an uncertain fate staring him in the face, he thought of God, for “the Almighty Hand holds our lives,” he noted. Amid the surrounding men of his unit many were, indeed, thumbing through their pocket bibles, silently offering a prayer for mercy in the coming fight.
Yet, there was heavy irony in this scene. There were no specific plans to use these soldiers of the Army of the Cumberland in the pending battle at Chattanooga, Tenn. They were seemingly so many outcasts, victims of their recent huge defeat at Chickamauga, and apparently all but ignored in the plans of Ulysses S. Grant to attack and destroy the besieging Confederate army of Braxton Bragg.
The day wore on. The impatient soldiers of George Thomas’ Army of the Cumberland watched a few thin clouds drift by in an azure sky. By mid-morning the sky was completely clear, noted a bored infantryman, and the tedious watching and waiting continued.
The following is the Editor’s Letter from Salem Church, Volume 30, #1
My Next Thirty Years
My late wife Robin and I started Blue & Gray soon after I turned 30 (she was 31). So, now that we’re in Vol. XXX, I’ve been editing and publishing this magazine for half my life. Robin died in 1998, from cancer, during the celebration period of our 15 years of publishing life, the midpoint of where we are today. After all that time, we can still feel her presence here at 522 Norton Road. She was indeed a larger than life character. Below is Robin at her B&G post in the mid-90s.
Volume XXX Issue #1 • An Excerpt From:
and Salem Church
by Erik F. Nelson
Chancellorsville has become a story of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson boldly confronting a boastful Joe Hooker and his massive Union army. The popular narrative is Lee and Jackson meeting after the opening engagement on May 1, 1863, Jackson’s stunning surprise attack on the afternoon of May 2, his loss to friendly fire later that evening, and Lee’s triumphant ride into the Chancellorsville clearing on May 3, surrounded by his cheering warriors.
Volume XXX, #2, an Excerpt from:
Morgan’s Great Raid, 1863
Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio
View a special Captioned Supplemental Photo Gallery of the Raid.
By James Ramage
General John Hunt Morgan was one of the greatest special forces commanders in history, and he stands higher today in military history than ever. In the important book A Savage Conflict: The Decisive Role of Guerrillas in the American Civil War, Daniel Sutherland, a leading scholar on irregular warfare in the Civil War, wrote that Morgan was “a master of guerrilla tactics” who, beginning in the summer of 1862, “stood alone as the premier Confederate partisan.” As “the central figure” among Confederate guerrillas, by example, Morgan “resuscitated many local bands that had gone to the ground” and renewed the hopes of Southerners. David L. Mowery, in his excellent, new book, Morgan’s Great Raid: The Remarkable Expedition from Kentucky to Ohio, concludes that the Great Raid was “an extraordinary military operation” and one of the most outstanding, “groundbreaking” military achievements in military history.