Tag Archives: Antietam

Dave Connon Reviews my Confederacy at Flood Tide book

(August 1, 2017) The book review below is provided by Dave Connon of Confederates From Iowa. 

Football announcers, amazingly enough, parallel the work of historians:  They both offer play-by-play comments, descriptions of players, speculation, and post-game analysis.  Historian Philip Leigh has written a thoughtful book, The Confederacy at Flood Tide:  The Political and Military Ascension, June to December 1862.

Leigh describes “the Confederacy’s most opportune period for winning independence.”  He excels at setting things in context, ranging from battles in the Eastern and Western Theaters to geopolitical struggles in Europe.  The book ends on the crescendo of Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.

Divided loyalties

The author offers a political insight about Robert E. Lee and the South in general:

Since he [Lee] famously, and reluctantly, resigned as a U.S. Army colonel during the secession crisis, Lee appreciated that the Confederacy was composed of people with divided loyalties and consciences.  Many would require victories in order to remain steadfast to the new cause.

Click here to read the rest of the book review.

My Amazon Author Page

LSU Libraries Reviews My Latest Book

(November 1, 2016) Today’s Fall 2016 issue of LSU’s Civil War Book Review included this review of The Confederacy at Flood Tide.

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The title is my fourth since 2013 and will be followed by a fifth next May. The preceding books are Lee’s Lost Dispatch and Other Civil War Controversies, Trading With the Enemy, and an illustrated and annotated version of Confederate Private Sam Watkins’s memoirs, Co. Aytch, which is Rebel vernacular for “Company H.”

Readers may learn more about each title at My Author Page at Amazon.

Sample Chapter: The Confederacy at Flood Tide

Provided below is the “Introduction” to my new Civil War book, The Confederacy at Flood TideIt is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Wal-Mart and other bookstores. It is also a History Book Club Selection. (Abundant footnotes are in the book, but not in this free sample.)  To inspect all of my books, please visit my author page at Amazon.


The Confederacy at Flood Tide was selected as a title to distinguish this book from the popular notion of the Confederacy at high tide. The latter expression is generally associated with Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg, or, secondarily, the Rebel attack on Starkweather’s Hill at Perryville, Kentucky. However, the story of the Confederacy’s most opportune period for winning independence involved developments in Europe, Virginia, Washington, Maryland, Kentucky, Mississippi, and even Missouri and Arkansas.

     Although it lasted only six months, from June to December 1862, the rising tide flooded all theaters of the war. It was not an isolated surge in Maryland or Kentucky. For example, at Prairie Grove, Arkansas, in early December 1862, more Missourians fought to win their state for the South than fought to keep it in the Union. Moreover, the Confederacy’s flood tide was not limited to military factors. It also swelled within the sectors of diplomacy, politics, and espionage. For instance, on July 4, 1862, the Confederacy signed a secret contract with a leading British warship builder for two deep-water ironclads superior to anything in the US Navy and capable of crossing the Atlantic.

     The Confederacy never came closer to diplomatic recognition than in autumn 1862. After learning of the Union rout at Second Bull Run—known as Second Manassas in the South—in mid-September British Prime Minister Henry John Temple, Lord Palmerston, advocated intervention. In an exchange of letters with the British foreign secretary, Earl John Russell—who held a post comparable to US secretary of state, albeit somewhat more prestigious—Palmerston wrote: “The Federals got a very complete smashing, and it seems not altogether unlikely that still greater disasters await them, and that even Washington or Baltimore may fall into the hands of the Confederates. If this should happen, would it not be time for us to consider whether . . . England and France might not address the contending parties and recommend an arrangement upon the basis of separation?” Russell agreed and added that if mediation failed, “we ought ourselves to recognize the Southern states as an independent state.”

     US Secretary of State William H. Seward instructed his ambassador to Great Britain to inform Palmerston’s government that any attempt to intervene in America’s Civil War would result in a break in diplomatic relations with the United States, thereby implying that war between Britain and the United States would likely result. Such a war would have challenged both sides. Although it would be hard for Britain to maintain an army in America, its powerful navy might have ended the federal blockade of Southern ports and even blockaded Northern harbors. Contrary to popular belief, the Monitor and Merrimack   (CSS Virginia) were not the first ironclad warships. The British and French began building bigger and faster deep-water ironclads before America’s Civil War started.

     As one of the weapons used by the Union to reverse the Confederate tide, the Emancipation Proclamation was more controversial than commonly supposed. Contrary to popular belief, many contemporaries were confused, critical, and frightened by its implications. Major General George McClellan, among others, believed it was a deliberate attempt to incite a slave rebellion in the South.

          Even President Abraham Lincoln admitted the possibility of such insurrections before he issued the proclamation. On September 13, 1862, he replied to a delegation of Chicago abolitionists visiting Washington that he recognized the potential “consequences of insurrection and massacre at the South” that such a proclamation might provoke. Whatever the moral benefits, or immoral consequences, of emancipation, he “view[ed] the matter as a practical war measure, to be decided upon according to the advantages or disadvantages it may offer to the suppression of the [Confederate] rebellion.”

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        Whatever his intent, the proclamation led to an uproar about its potential to incite slave rebellions. Ultimately, however, there was a subtle but important difference in the language between the preliminary version—issued shortly after the Battle of Antietam in September 1862—and the final version issued on January 1, 1863. Lincoln added the following paragraph, which was altogether missing from the September version:

“And I hereby enjoin upon the people so declared to be free to abstain from all violence, unless in necessary self-defence; and I recommend to them that, in all cases when allowed, they labor faithfully for reasonable wages.” Continue reading

Catalog Page for The Confederacy at Flood Tide

Provided below is a copy of the catalog page for my fourth Civil War book, which will be released next spring (2016).

Flood Tite Catalogue Page===========================

My Civil War Books

Lee’s Lost Dispatch and Other Civil War Controversies
Trading With the Enemy
Co. Aytch: Illustrated and Annotated

Presentation on Lee’s Lost Dispatch

On Tuesday the 15th of December I will speak on “Lee’s Lost Dispatch.” The dispatch refers to Robert E. Lee’s Special Order 191 a copy of which was captured by the opposing Union army during Lee’s first Northern invasion. It revealed Lee’s plans and disclosed that his outnumbered army was temporarily widely scattered and vulnerable to decisive Union attack.

Although I discuss the order’s discovery and Union Major General George McClellan’s response, I also analyze the chief mystery of the incident, which is how the order was lost… or stolen

Host: Sarasota Civil War Roundtable
Date: Tuesday: December 15, 2015
Time: 7:00 pm
Where: Adult Education Building
Grace Church
8000 Bee Ridge Road
Sarasota, Florida 34247

The speech is based on one chapter in my Lee’s Lost Dispatch and Other Civil War Controversies, released earlier this year by Westholme Publishing. The book provides twelve stories about obscure incidents and personality conflicts that helped determine the war’s progress and outcome. They range from the Union’s tardy adoption of breech loading and repeating rifles and the Confederacy’s error to embargo cotton instead of hurriedly exporting it for exchange credits, to the possible pre-emption of the war at Charleston harbor in January 1861.

A sample chapter of Lee’s Lost Dispatch is available here at no charge.


My Civil War Books

Lee’s Lost Dispatch and Other Civil War Controversies
Trading With the Enemy
Co. Aytch: Illustrated and Annotated

Book Released Today: Lee’s Lost Dispatch and Other Civil War Controversies

LeeLostToday Westholme Publishing released my latest Civil War book, Lee’s Lost Dispatch and Other Civil War ControversiesIt is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other bookstores.

More Americans were killed in the Civil War than in any other, despite the fact that our country’s population was only about a tenth of the present 312 million. If Civil War casualty ratios were applied to our current population, the number of deaths would total over six million, compared to about four hundred thousand in World War II. Partly because of the enormous number of casualties and partly because it was fought in our own land, the Civil War is one of the great mythological themes of American history. Thus, it will probably continue to be a rich source of historical writing and literature for decades to come. But viewpoints about it shift unpredictably from one perspective to another and then get stuck in a rut. Thereafter, they follow Newton’s law of inertia until acted upon by a fresh impulse. Consider, for example, how Michael Shaara’s Pulitzer Prize-winning The Killer Angels altered opinions about major Gettysburg personalities. Shaara demonstrated that new directions might emerge by inspecting unexamined assumptions, which is one of the aims of this book.

Lee’s Lost Dispatch and Other Civil War Controversies revisits eleven episodes of the Civil War era—some lesser known than others—that, upon reexamination, may challenge our received understanding of the course of that conflict. It is hoped that this small volume will promote discussion and debate among those who enjoy Civil War history and contemplating alternatives to conventional conclusions and analyses.