Monday, August 20, 2007

Intimate Strategies of the Civil War: Military Commanders and Their Wives

Edited by by Carol K. Bleser and Lesley J. Gordon

From the publisher:
From Robert E. and Mary Lee to Ulysses S. and Julia Grant, Intimate Strategies of the Civil War examines the marriages of twelve prominent military commanders, highlighting the impact wives had on their famous husbands' careers.

Carol K. Bleser and Lesley J. Gordon assemble an impressive array of leading scholars to explore the marriages of six Confederate and six Union commanders.

Contributors reveal that, for many of these men, the matrimonial bond was the most important relationship in their lives, one that shaped (and was shaped by) their military experience. In some cases, the commanders' spouses proved relentless and skillful promoters of their husbands' careers. Jessie Fremont drew on all of her connections as the daughter of former Senator Thomas Hart Benton to aid her modestly talented husband John. Others bolstered their military spouses in less direct ways. For example, Ulysses S. Grant's relationship with Julia (a Southerner and former slave owner herself) kept him anchored in stormy times.

Here, too, are tense and tempestuous pairings, such William Tecumseh Sherman and his wife Ellen--his foster sister before becoming his wife--and Jefferson Davis's fascinatingly complex bond with Varina, further complicated by the hostile rumors about the two in Richmond society.

Throughout, these historians paint remarkably intimate portraits of their subjects, ranging from hints of sexual passion, to the wives' fierce protectiveness of their husbands' reputations, to the surprisingly frequent visits of spouses to the front lines and battlefields. Readers will see these famed men in a way that they perhaps never considered: not merely as famous leaders, but as lovers, husbands and fathers.

Illuminating a frequently neglected but extremely significant side of military history, Intimate Strategies is a must-read for anyone seeking fresh perspective on some of the war's best known commanders and a landmark contribution to Civil War history.

From Library Journal:
Readers are not as likely to recognize the names of Varina Howell Davis and Julia Dent Grant as those of their husbands, Jefferson and Ulysses, but these wives of Civil War leaders also contributed to the war's outcome and to their husbands' careers. Long neglected in traditional military treatments of the conflict, the family life and very different wives of 12 of the Union's and Confederate's most significant leaders are the topic of this fascinating collection of essays.

From CWBN:
This is a new paperback release of the hardback edition originally issued in 2001. This title was released on August 15.