Winner of the 2022 Helen Dortch Longstreet Award and the Mahoning Valley Civil War Round Table 2022 Hugh G. Earnhart Civil War Scholarship Award
The American Civil War is often called the first “modern war.” Sandwiched between the Napoleonic Wars and World War I, it spawned a host of “firsts” and is considered a precursor to the larger and more deadly 20th century wars. Confederate Gen. James Longstreet made overlooked but profound modern contributions to the art of war. Retired Lt. Col. Harold M. Knudsen explains what Longstreet did and how he did it in James Longstreet and the American Civil War: The Confederate General Who Fought the Next War.
A careful comparison of Longstreet’s body of work in the field to modern military doctrine reveals several large-scale innovations. He understood early that the tactical defense dominated the offense, which was something few grasped in 1862. Longstreet’s thinking demonstrated a clear evolution that began at First Manassas in July 1861, developed through the bloody fighting of 1862, and culminated in the brilliant defensive victory at Fredericksburg that December. The lethality with which his riflemen and artillery mowed down repeated Union assaults hinted at what was to come in World War I. Longstreet’s ability to launch and control powerful offensives was on display at Second Manassas in August 1862, and his assault plan at Chickamauga in September 1863 was similar, if not the forerunner to, World War II tactical-level German armored tactics. He also demonstrated progressive applications with artillery, staff work, force projection, and operational-level thinking.
Knudsen used 20th century U.S. Army doctrine, field training, staff planning, command, and combat experience to produce this first serious treatment of Longstreet’s generalship vis-a-vis modern warfare. Not everyone will agree with Knudsen’s conclusions, but it will now be impossible to write about the general without referencing this important study.
Harold M. Knudsen is an Illinois native. His career spans 25 years of active duty service with the U.S. Army and includes seven resident career artillery, command, and staff Army schools and colleges. His years of staff work at the Corps, Army, and Pentagon levels give him a strong understanding of Army operations from the lowest to highest levels.
“If you truly want to learn about General James Longstreet, this is the book to read. Fully documented with comparative examples of Longstreet’s operations to future tactics and operations, James Longstreet and the American Civil War gives readers a true understanding of the person, his creativity, and his important contributions during the Civil War.”
~Gen. (Ret.) David M. Maddox, former CINC, U.S. Army Europe
“Few can look at and understand the military aspects of the Civil War like Knudsen can with all the Army schools and tours of duty he has under his belt.”
~Edwin C. Bearss, former Chief Historian, National Park Service
“Longstreet may remain personally controversial, but it is inarguable that he knew how to handle large numbers of men on the battlefield. His assault at Second Manassas was the largest in the history of the Army of Northern Virginia; the Chickamauga attack was as tactically intriguing as it was successful; and his defensive ideas were ahead of his time. Knudsen uses his U.S. Army training and decades of modern experience to demonstrate that there was more to Lee’s Old Warhorse than most readers of Civil War history have been led to believe.”
~Stephen A. Hood, author of The Lost Papers of Confederate General John Bell Hood and Patriots Twice: Former Confederates and the Building of America After the Civil War
Strictly Necessary Cookies
Strictly Necessary Cookie should be enabled at all times so that we can save your preferences for cookie settings.
If you disable this cookie, we will not be able to save your preferences. This means that every time you visit this website you will need to enable or disable cookies again.