Did Confederate armies attack too often for their own good? Was the relentless, sometimes costly effort to preserve territory a blunder? Why great battles in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, and Tennessee rather than well-laid ambushes in Alabama's sandhills or the pine forests of the Carolinas? These questions about Confederate strategy have ...
Did Confederate armies attack too often for their own good? Was the relentless, sometimes costly effort to preserve territory a blunder? Why great battles in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, and Tennessee rather than well-laid ambushes in Alabama's sandhills or the pine forests of the Carolinas? These questions about Confederate strategy have dogged historians since Appomattox. Many have come to believe that the South might have won the Civil War if it had only avoided head-on battles, conducted an aggressive guerrilla campaign, and maneuvered across wide swaths of territory to exhaust the Union's willingness to continue the war. Retreat to Victory? Confederate Strategy Reconsidered challenges this widely held theory. Robert G. Tanner argues that deep retreats and battle avoidance (the strategy of maneuver rather than combat) were not available to Southern leaders in planning their wartime strategy. The South fought as it did for valid reasons, according to Tanner, and this book examines these reasons in detail, including the South's need to protect its slave-based economy, to establish a state's rights-oriented government, and to win independence from the Union. Tanner uses Prussian military theorist Carl von Clausewitz's classic On War as a means for evaluating Confederate actions. On War provides a single measure for testing claims that the South could have prevailed by avoiding battles and forcing the Union to hold large tracts of land. Provocative and carefully researched, Retreat to Victory offers a fresh perspective on Confederate strategy and makes an important contribution to the field that no serious student of American history will want to miss.
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