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The Spotsylvania Campaign$
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Gary W. Gallagher

Print publication date: 1998

Print ISBN-13: 9780807824023

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: July 2014

DOI: 10.5149/9780807898376_gallagher

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I Have to Make the Best of What I Have

I Have to Make the Best of What I Have

Robert E. Lee at Spotsylvania

(p.5) I Have to Make the Best of What I Have
The Spotsylvania Campaign

Gary W. Gallagher

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter assesses Robert E. Lee's handling of problems relating to corps-level command in his army during the middle of May 1864. No period in the history of the Army of Northern Virginia presented Lee with more challenges of this type. In the two weeks beginning on May 6, James Longstreet received a debilitating wound, A. P. Hill collapsed physically, and Richard S. Ewell performed in a manner Lee deemed utterly unacceptable. The Confederate commander found himself in the position of fending off Grant's powerful offensive blows at Spotsylvania while also struggling to ensure competent leadership in his army's three infantry corps. Lee's response to this crisis not only reveals his superior skills as an administrator and judge of men, but also that it contradicts common assumptions that Lee gave top subordinates too much leeway on the battlefield and was too much of a gentleman to make hard decisions concerning personnel.

Keywords:   Civil War, military campaigns, corps-level command, Army of Northern Virginia, Confederates

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