CHANCELLORSVILLE, by Stephen W. Sears (University of South Carolina Press, 203 pages, $29.95).
Sears,acknowledged as one of today’s foremost Civil War scholars, draws on the papers of the Union’s General Joseph Hooker (1814-79), and a wealth of previously unpublished material, including diaries and memoirs of officers and men from both armies, to reconstruct one of the most dramatic battles of the Civil War. The engagement at Chancellorsville, Virginia, in May 1863, is considered to be the most remarkable of Confederate General Robert E.Lee’s victories, spurring him on to launch another offensive, which would lead to his greatest defeat–the Battle of Gettysburg. Although hailed as the victor, winning the battle at Chancellorsville cost General Lee (1807-70) dearly,with Confederate casualties listed as 1,724 dead, 9,233 wounded, and 2,503 missing. It also cost the life of one of Lee’s most trusted officers, General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson (1824-63), who was accidentally shot by his own troops late in the battle.