May 21, 2009

Dixie Betrayed - David Eicher

It's written like a text book. That is to say that facts follow facts and are then related to more facts upon facts. The author follows a chronological sequence - with no real attempt to follow an interesting storyline. The style renders the book ponderous, difficult, and anything but a page turner.

That said, I have to admit that I did form a few new impressions as I read it.

  • Jefferson Davis was shown to be a micro-manager and poor executive. He appointed incompetent friends to powerful positions, which in the end led to the political self-distruction of the Confederacy.
  • During the war there was a constant tension between the Confederacy and State rights. The arguments were bitter and counter productive and a serious drag on the Davis directed war.
  • The generals that led the Confederate army units were, for the most part, inexperienced and lacking leadership skills. They made many stupid mistakes.
  • Most were appointed because they were friends or related to someone known by Davis - and not because of their ability to follow orders or manage and direct troops.
  • At the end of the war Robert E. Lee was one of the very few heroes of the failed Confederacy. At least some of his enduring popularity is due to the photography of Matthew Brady. Lee was a commanding figure with his white hair, beard, sword, and grey uniform long coat.
  • His gallant image has outlasted the Jefferson Davis record of failure.