OVERRIDE

Damage Them All You Can

Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia

George Walsh

Forge Books

“Damage them all you can,” the patrician Lee exhorts, and his Southern army, ragtag in uniform and elite in spirit, responds ferociously in one battle after another against their Northern enemies—from the Seven Days and the Valley Campaign through Chancellorsville and Gettysburg, from the Wilderness to Spotsylvania to the final siege of Richmond and Petersburg. Lee knows that the South’s five-and-a-half million white population will be worn down in any protracted struggle by the North’s twenty-two million. He is ever offensive-minded, ever seeking the victory that will destroy his enemies’ will to fight. He uses his much shorter interior lines to rush troops to trouble spots by forced marches and by rail. His cavalry rides on raids around the entire union army. Lee divides his own force time and again, defying military custom by bluffing one wing of the enemy while striking furiously elsewhere.

But this book is more than military history. Walsh’s narrative digs deeper, revealing the humanity of Lee and his lieutenants as never before—their nobility and their flaws, their chilling acceptance of death, their tender relations with wives and sweethearts in the midst of carnage.

Here we encounter in depth the men who still stir the imagination. The dutiful Robert E. Lee, haunted by his father’s failures; stern and unbending Stonewall Jackson, cut down at the moment of his greatest triumph; stolid James Longstreet, who came to believe he was Lee’s equal as a strategist, the enigmatic George Pickett.

These men and scores of others, enlisted men as well as officers, carry the ultimately tragic story of the Army of Northern Virginia forward with heart rending force and bloody impact.
As the war progresses we wonder above all else, had orders been strictly obeyed here or daylight lasted an extra hour there, what might have been. Only Appomattox brings an end to such speculation, when the tattered remnants of Lee’s army, both the still living and the shadowy dead, stack their arms at last.
“Damage them all you can,” the patrician Lee exhorts, and his Southern army, ragtag in uniform and elite in spirit, responds ferociously in one battle after another against their Northern enemies—from the Seven Days and the Valley Campaign through Chancellorsville and Gettysburg, from the Wilderness to Spotsylvania to the final siege of Richmond and Petersburg. Lee knows that the South’s five-and-a-half million white population will be worn down in any protracted struggle by the North’s twenty-two million. He is ever offensive-minded, ever seeking the victory that will destroy his enemies’ will to fight. He uses his much shorter interior lines to rush troops to trouble spots by forced marches and by rail. His cavalry rides on raids around the entire union army. Lee divides his own force time and again, defying military custom by bluffing one wing of the enemy while striking furiously elsewhere.

But this book is more than military history. Walsh’s narrative digs deeper, revealing the humanity of Lee and his lieutenants as never before—their nobility and their flaws, their chilling acceptance of death, their tender relations with wives and sweethearts in the midst of carnage.

Here we encounter in depth the men who still stir the imagination. The dutiful Robert E. Lee, haunted by his father’s failures; stern and unbending Stonewall Jackson, cut down at the moment of his greatest triumph; stolid James Longstreet, who came to believe he was Lee’s equal as a strategist, the enigmatic George Pickett.

These men and scores of others, enlisted men as well as officers, carry the ultimately tragic story of the Army of Northern Virginia forward with heart rending force and bloody impact.
As the war progresses we wonder above all else, had orders been strictly obeyed here or daylight lasted an extra hour there, what might have been. Only Appomattox brings an end to such speculation, when the tattered remnants of Lee’s army, both the still living and the shadowy dead, stack their arms at last.

BOOK EXCERPTS

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1861
 
ONE
 
THE SOUTHERN COMMANDERS
 
 
In both North and South the early months of 1861 clearly signaled the onset of the Civil War. Abraham Lincoln's election to the presidency, viewed as a decisive victory for the abolitionists on the slavery issue, had splintered the traditional political parties and divided the nation as never before. Emancipation had become a creed, states' rights a dogma. By February 1, all the states of the Deep South--South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Texas--had seceded, and soon would form the
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REVIEWS

Praise for Damage Them All You Can

“Mr. Walsh writes clearly and has a way of isolating the critical elements in a battle. His emphasis on the officers’ backgrounds works very well. He treats them as people, not just uniforms with stars and gold braid. I’m learning a lot about Civil War commanders that I knew only as dry names.”—Larry Bond, The New York Times bestselling author of Day of Wrath

“A native New Yorker has written a moving and monumental history of the greatest army ever to fight on American soil, namely Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. This book belongs on the shelf with Catton and McPherson, Foote and Freeman, Wiley and Williams. It’s a superb piece of scholarship.”—Staige D. Blackford, The Virginia Quarterly Review

“This is an extraordinary book. The prose is alive with vivid descriptions and shrewd insights into the leaders of the Army of Northern Virginia. The battle narratives are superb. The end result is nothing less than an epic of American courage, told with unflinching detail and deeply moving pathos.”—Thomas Fleming, the New York Times bestselling author of When This Cruel War Is Over

“George Walsh’s probings into the characters and battles of Robert E. Lee and his officers of the Army of Northern Virginia are just brilliant. Who would have thought, with the enormity of books on the subject, that such new, incisive insights could be made on these men of the Confederacy. Damage Them All You Can is a magisterial work.”—Dale L. Walker, the Spur Award–Winning author of Pacific Destiny
“Mr. Walsh writes clearly and has a way of isolating the critical elements in a battle. His emphasis on the officers’ backgrounds works very well. He treats them as people, not just uniforms with stars and gold braid. I’m learning a lot about Civil War commanders that I knew only as dry names.”—Larry Bond, The New York Times bestselling author of Day of Wrath

“A native New Yorker has written a moving and monumental history of the greatest army ever to fight on American soil, namely Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. This book belongs on the shelf with Catton and McPherson, Foote and Freeman, Wiley and Williams. It’s a superb piece of scholarship.”—Staige D. Blackford, The Virginia Quarterly Review

“This is an extraordinary book. The prose is alive with vivid descriptions and shrewd insights into the leaders of the Army of Northern Virginia. The battle narratives are superb. The end result is nothing less than an epic of American courage, told with unflinching detail and deeply moving pathos.”—Thomas Fleming, the New York Times bestselling author of When This Cruel War Is Over

“George Walsh’s probings into the characters and battles of Robert E. Lee and his officers of the Army of Northern Virginia are just brilliant. Who would have thought, with the enormity of books on the subject, that such new, incisive insights could be made on these men of the Confederacy. Damage Them All You Can is a magisterial work.”—Dale L. Walker, the Spur Award–Winning author of Pacific Destiny

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • George Walsh

  • George Walsh is the former editor-in-chief of the General Books Division of the Macmillan Publishing Company and a longtime journalist. Walsh has been a Civil War buff since he published the mass market edition of The Killer Angels, which won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1975. Damage Them All You Can is the culmination of eight years of research and study.
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    Damage Them All You Can

    Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia

    George Walsh

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    Forge Books

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