written by Darrell L Collins
Based upon exhaustive new research, Darrell Collins's
new biography breathes life into a heretofore largely overlooked Southern soldier.
Although Rodes' widow consigned his personal papers to the flames after the war, Collins
has uncovered a substantial amount of firsthand information to complete this compelling portrait of one of Robert E. Lee's most dependable field generals.
Darrell L. Collins
is the author of several books on the Civil War, including General William Averell's Salem Raid: Breaking the Knoxville Supply Line (1999) and Jackson's Valley Campaign: The Battles of Cross Keys and Port Republic (The Virginia Civil War Battles and Leaders Series, 1993).
A native of Ann Arbor, Michigan, Darrell
wife Judith recently relocated to Conifer, Colorado.
Author Darrel Collins has written a stellar biography; one of those works I found difficult to put down once I began reading.
Relying upon a wide-range of primary source materials, Collins has presented a fair and entirely objective portrait of this fine military commander.
We learn of Rodes's childhood in Lynchburg, Virginia, his
studies as a cadet at the Virginia Military Institute
, and his
difficult path in establishing a career as civil engineer, working on the railroads.
Three-quarters of the book, naturally, focuses on Rodes's experiences in the Civil War, from the opening shots at Bull Run until his
death at the age of thirty-five at Winchester in September 1864.
I agree whole-heartedly with the earlier three fine reviews by Durney, Brunelle and Jordan that this work by Collins
is an excellent biography.
"If he could," author Darrell Collins
might object to being the subject of a biography.
Collins takes us on a truly captivating journey, beginning with Rodes' days at the Virginia Military Institute and leading us to that fateful afternoon in September 1864 at Third Winchester.
has done his
homework and then some, scouring the letters and diaries of Rodes' men and associates in some twelve states and the District of Columbia.
work is based largely on these unpublished primary sources, which are then supplemented by a survey of the pertinent secondary literature where necessary.
Cartographer Timothy Reese has augmented the text with a number of illuminating battle and troop position maps.
sets out to produce a complete biography of one of the best general's in the Army of Northern Virginia
A story of a man well-respected by his
peers and those who served under him.
notes the difficulty in getting some primary accounts about Rodes
, the task made even harder because Rodes' wife destroyed their personal letters.
As to the military aspects and judgments concerning Rodes, Collins
shows fine skill as well as his
own good judgment.
doesn't hold punches where Rodes
perhaps doesn't perform up to what would have been expected of him.
handling of his
troops at Gettysburg for example comes under close scrutiny.
questions some of Rodes decisions and non-decisions, while at the same time offering up the potential mitigating issues surrounding Rodes'
even-handed evaluation of Rodes
seems very fair throughout the book - his praise for Rodes
at Seven Pines, South Mountain, the Bloody Lane, or the counterattacks at the Mule Shoe are offset with questions about actions at Gettysburg and other battles where Rodes
was less than perfect.