Joe Glatthaar on “Why the Confederacy Lost”

Looks like Vanderbilt University has put together a first rate speakers series [see here, here, and here] on the Civil War.  It is safe to say that the most important book to be published on the Army of Northern Virginia in recent years is Joseph Glatthaar’s, General Lee’s Army: From Victory to Collapse.  I read through the book when it was first published and have since gone through large sections of it again.  While the book offers an incredibly rich narrative it is Glatthaar’s statistical sample that constitutes the real value of this study.  Glatthaar’s statistical portrait of the ANV is slated to be published by the University of North Carolina Press: Soldiering in the Army of Northern Virginia: A Statistical Portrait of the Troops Who Served under Robert E. Lee.  You get a taste of this aspect of the book in this presentation.

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7 thoughts on “Joe Glatthaar on “Why the Confederacy Lost”

  1. Scott Manning

    The statistics are overwhelming. If I understood him correctly, he said that 1 out of 2 officers in Lee’s army were casualties, which is a brutal figure. Even worse, 80% of the army became casualties, after you exclude desertions. A regularly supplied army would struggle to support those losses.

    However, the number that blew my mind was that the Army of Northern Virginia inflicted 45% of all Union casualties during the war. I agree with many people that the Eastern Theater gets a lopsided amount of attention, but a figure like that make you think, especially when we are talking about a single army. Lee’s army killed hard and died hard.

    Thanks for posting this video.

    Reply
      1. Scott Manning

        I have the book, but I have only read portions of it. Actually, I think I picked it up a year ago after reading one of your posts mentioning it.

        I keep thinking about that stat on the Army of Northern Virginia. I tried to track down how many different armies there were in the Confederacy. I came up with 22. I don’t know if that is accurate, and obviously some armies were bigger and more active than others. However, when you point out that the Army of Northern Virginia was 1 of 22 Confederate armies and that single army inflicted 45% of the Union’s casualties for the war, it makes the stat even more impressive.

        Reply
        1. Jonathan Mahaffey

          It looks like the list of armies Scott links to includes some of the smaller armies that were eventually combined into the ANV. Do Dr. Glatthaar’s statistics include the data for these predecessor armies, such as the casualty figures from First Manassas, or does he only start from the official creation of the ANV after Lee took command?

          Reply

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