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Confederate and Union Generals of the American Civil War

For most of the American Civil War the Union Army assigned only two general ranks: brigadier-general and major-general. In 1864 the rank of lieutenant-general was reactivated and assigned to Ulysses Simpson Grant. The three grades were distinguished by their insignia: one star for brigadier-general, two for major-general, and three for lieutenant-general.
In 1862 there were four general grades in the Confederate Army: brigadier-general, major-general, lieutenant-general, and general being the highest attainable rank. All wore the same insignia making it impossible to identify a general's rank by his insignia. General Robert E. Lee, nevertheless, wore the insignia of colonel. During informal communication, however, each may be addressed as general.
The general grades may also be abbreviated in various forms: major-general, for example, may be abbreviated to Maj. Gen. Jones; Maj. General Jones; Maj-Gen. Jones, etc. Formally, however, it is Major General Jones or Major-General Jones.

 
27% of North Carolina's generals were killed-in-action; the generals truly led by example and they epitomized the adage and embodied the motto: "I shall never request my men do what I, myself, would not."

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Recommended Reading: Generals in Gray: Lives of the Confederate Commanders. Description: When Generals in Gray was published in 1959, scholars and critics immediately hailed it as one of the few indispensable books on the American Civil War. Historian Stanley Horn, for example, wrote, "It is difficult for a reviewer to restrain his enthusiasm in recommending a monumental book of this high quality and value." Here at last is the paperback edition of Ezra J. Warner’s magnum opus with its concise, detailed biographical sketches and—in an amazing feat of research—photographs of all 425 Confederate generals. Continued below...

The only exhaustive guide to the South’s command, Generals in Gray belongs on the shelf of anyone interested in the Civil War. RATED 5 STARS!

 

Recommended Reading: Generals in Blue: Lives of the Union Commanders (Hardcover). Description: More than forty years after its original publication, Ezra J. Warner’s Generals in Blue is now available in paperback for the first time. Warner’s classic reference work includes intriguing biographical sketches and a rare collection of photos of all 583 men who attained the rank of general in the Union Army. Here are the West Point graduates and the political appointees; the gifted, the mediocre, and the inexcusably bad; those of impeccable virtue and those who abused their position; the northern-born, the foreign-born, and the southerners who remained loyal to the Union. Continued below...

Warner’s valuable introduction discusses the criteria for appointment and compares the civilian careers of both Union and Confederate generals, revealing striking differences in the two groups. A rare picture or photograph is priceless...Generals in Blue is that rare book—an essential volume for scholars, a prized item for buffs, and a biographical dictionary that the casual reader will find absorbing.
 

Recommended Reading: Civil War High Commands (1040 pages) (Hardcover). Description: Based on nearly five decades of research, this magisterial work is a biographical register and analysis of the people who most directly influenced the course of the Civil War, its high commanders. Numbering 3,396, they include the presidents and their cabinet members, state governors, general officers of the Union and Confederate armies (regular, provisional, volunteers, and militia), and admirals and commodores of the two navies. Civil War High Commands will become a cornerstone reference work on these personalities and the meaning of their commands, and on the Civil War itself. Continued below...

Errors of fact and interpretation concerning the high commanders are legion in the Civil War literature, in reference works as well as in narrative accounts. The present work brings together for the first time in one volume the most reliable facts available, drawn from more than 1,000 sources and including the most recent research. The biographical entries include complete names, birthplaces, important relatives, education, vocations, publications, military grades, wartime assignments, wounds, captures, exchanges, paroles, honors, and place of death and interment. In addition to its main component, the biographies, the volume also includes a number of essays, tables, and synopses designed to clarify previously obscure matters such as the definition of grades and ranks; the difference between commissions in regular, provisional, volunteer, and militia services; the chronology of military laws and executive decisions before, during, and after the war; and the geographical breakdown of command structures. The book is illustrated with 84 new diagrams of all the insignias used throughout the war and with 129 portraits of the most important high commanders. It is the most comprehensive volume to date...name any Union or Confederate general--and it can be found in here. [T]he photos alone are worth the purchase. RATED FIVE STARS by americancivilwarhistory.org
 
 
Recommended Reading: Rebels and Yankees: Commanders of the Civil War (Hardcover), by William C. Davis (Author), Russ A. Pritchard (Author). Description: Davis and Pritchard have created a wonderful work that is sure to become a hit with anyone who studies the Civil War. This book uses words and a generous amount of pictures and photographs to tell the story of the leaders, both talented and flawed, that held together the two struggling armies in a time of chaos and devastating loss. Continued below...

Although many of the stories have been told in one form or another.... Commanders compiles this study in a single book that makes it very easy to compare and contrast the styles and techniques employed by officers of both armies. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and highly recommend it.

 
Recommended Reading: Battles and Leaders of the Civil War, Volume 6 (Battles & Leaders of the Civil War) (632 pages) (University of Illinois Press) (May 30, 2007). Description: Sifting carefully through reports from newspapers, magazines, personal memoirs, and letters, Peter Cozzens' Volume 6 brings readers more of the best first-person accounts of marches, encampments, skirmishes, and full-blown battles, as seen by participants on both sides of the conflict. Continued below...
Alongside the experiences of lower-ranking officers and enlisted men are accounts from key personalities including General John Gibbon, General John C. Lee, and seven prominent generals from both sides offering views on "why the Confederacy failed." This volume includes one hundred and twenty illustrations, including sixteen previously uncollected maps of battlefields, troop movements, and fortifications.
 

Recommended Reading: Lee's Lieutenants: A Study in Command (912 pages). Description: Hailed as one of the greatest Civil War books, this exhaustive study is an abridgement of the original three-volume version. It is a history of the Army of Northern Virginia from the first shot fired to the surrender at Appomattox - but what makes this book unique is that it incorporates a series of biographies of more than 150 Confederate officers. The book discusses in depth all the tradeoffs that were being made politically and militarily by the South. Continued below...

The book does an excellent job describing the battles, then at a critical decision point in the battle, the book focuses on an officer - the book stops and tells the biography of that person, and then goes back to the battle and tells what information the officer had at that point and the decision he made. At the end of the battle, the officers decisions are critiqued based on what he "could have known and what he should have known" given his experience, and that is compared with 20/20 hindsight. "It is an incredibly well written book!"
 

Recommended Reading: Generals in Bronze: Interviewing the Commanders of the Civil War (Hardcover). Description: Generals in Bronze: Revealing interviews with the commanders of the Civil War. In the decades that followed the American Civil War, Artist James E. Kelly (1855-1933) conducted in-depth interviews with over forty Union Generals in an effort to accurately portray them in their greatest moment of glory. Kelly explained: "I had always felt a great lack of certain personal details. I made up my mind to ask from living officers every question I would have asked Washington or his generals had they posed for me, such as: What they considered the principal incidents in their career and particulars about costumes and surroundings." Continued below…

During one interview session with Gen. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, Kelly asked about the charge at Fort Damnation. Gen. Chamberlain acquiesced, but then added, "I don't see how you can show this in a picture." "Just tell me the facts," Kelly responded, "and I'll attend to the picture." And by recording those stirring facts, Kelly left us not only his wonderful art, but a truly unique picture of the lives of the great figures of the American Civil War. About the Author: William B. Styple has edited, co-authored, and authored several works on the Civil War. His book: "The Little Bugler" won the Young Readers' Award from the Civil War Round Table of New York. He is currently writing the biography of Gen. Phil Kearny.

 

Recommended Reading: Staff Officers in Gray: A Biographical Register of the Staff Officers in the Army of Northern Virginia (Hardcover) (360 pages) (The University of North Carolina Press) (September 3, 2008). Description: This indispensable Civil War reference profiles 2,300 staff officers in Robert E. Lee's famous Army of Northern Virginia. A typical entry includes the officer's full name, the date and place of his birth and death, details of his education and occupation, and a synopsis of his military record. Continued below...

Two appendixes provide a list of more than 3,000 staff officers who served in other armies of the Confederacy and complete rosters of known staff officers of each general in the Army of Northern Virginia.

 
Recommended Reading: The Gallant Dead: Union and Confederate Generals Killed in the Civil War (Hardcover). Description: More than 400 Confederate and 580 Union soldiers advanced to the rank of general during the course of the Civil War. (More than 1 in 10 would die.) A total of 124 generals died--78 for the South and 46 for the North. Continued below...

Weaving their stories into a seamless narrative of the entire conflict, Derek Smith paints a fascinating and often moving portrait of the final moments of some of the finest American warriors in history, including Stonewall Jackson, Albert Sidney Johnston, Jeb Stuart, James B. McPherson, John Reynolds, and numerous others.

Each page offers additional information, including: Civil War Generals, List of Union and Confederate Generals, Details of American Civil War Generals (Photos, Photo, Pictures, Photographs), History, Generals Killed, Wounded, Summary, Facts, General Biography, and Diary.

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