Paid Advertisement
Historynet/feed historynet feedback facebook link World History Group RSS feed World History Group Subscriptions Historynet Home page

Book Review: The Secret War for the Union ( Edwin C. Fishel) : ACW

Originally published on Published Online: August 11, 2001 
Print Friendly
0 comments FONT +  FONT -

The Secret War for the Union, by Edwin C. Fishel, Houghton Mifflin Company, New York, $35.

This book provides the serious reader of Civil War history with another overlay through which to study the events of the war. In this case, the addition is the dimension of military intelligence, or lack thereof, in the battles that were fought in northern Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania. The author bases this comprehensive and highly detailed narrative of Union intelligence activities on a cache of records he discovered in U.S. government archives in 1959 that had apparently lain undisturbed for nearly a century. This book serves to clear up many Civil War events that, until now, were thought to be simply matters of bad or good luck.

More than 130 years after the event, Edwin C. Fishel has uncovered information that clearly indicates, for example, why the Battle of Gettysburg took place where it did –it was not just a matter of armies blundering into one another. The book also points up the fact that in the Civil War, as in every other war, good intelligence did not always guarantee success. Even though Union Maj. Gen. George Meade knew from his intelligence officers that every unit in Robert E. Lee's army had seen action and was therefore depleted, he did not pursue Lee during his withdrawal from Gettysburg.

Fishel notes that the concept and practice of "all source" intelligence analysis by a staff dedicated to that purpose was reinvented by Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker when he was commander of the Army of the Potomac (George Washington had used the concept, but did the analysis himself). This idea disappeared again from American military thought after the war and was not seen again until World War II.

John I. Witmer

Subscribe Today

Subscribe to America's Civil War magazine

Leave a Reply

Human Verification: In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.

Related Articles

History Net Images Spacer
Paid Advertisement
Paid Advertisement
History Net Daily Activities
History net Spacer
History net Spacer
Historynet Spacer

Which of these wars resulted in the most surprising underdog upset?

View Results | See previous polls

Loading ... Loading ...
History net Spacer
RSS Feed Daily Email Update
History net Spacer
Paid Advertisement

Paid Advertisement
What is HistoryNet? is brought to you by World History Group, the world's largest publisher of history magazines. contains daily features, photo galleries and over 5,000 articles originally published in our various magazines.

If you are interested in a specific history subject, try searching our archives, you are bound to find something to pique your interest.

From Our Magazines
World History Group

World History Group Network:  HistoryNet | Armchair General | Achtung Panzer!
Today in History | Ask Mr. History | Picture of the Day | Daily History Quiz | Contact Us

Copyright © 2015 World History Group. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.
Advertise With Us | Subscription Help | Privacy Policy