The Daily Beast reviewed a new book by Prof. of Civil War Era Studies Allen Guelzo, Fateful Lightning, in a January 19 article.
From The Daily Beast:
Allen Guelzo's new history of the civil war, Fateful Lightning, is a masterpiece of compression.
Here, in only 576 pages, including all footnotes is the whole war, strategy as well as tactics. Guelzo reaches back to the origins of the slavery controversy in the 1820s through the end of Reconstruction in 1877. Guelzo deftly sketches the leading personalities on both sides, yet also has time to describe the sound made by a Minie ball. Through it all, his remarkably broad expertise casts unexpected light on issue after issue.
Why did Robert E. Lee order Pickett's disastrous charge? Guelzo draws attention to the lessons the soldiers of the mid-19th century drew from the Crimean War. In that war, the tactical offensive had usually prevailed, thanks to the slowness of musket fire as compared to the speed of marching professional soldiers. The experience of the first year of the Civil War seemed to validate the Crimean lesson. Until it was too late. Grant may have the reputation of a butcher, but year in, year out, it was Lee's army that suffered the higher rate of casualties.