Richard Stoddert Ewell is best known as the Confederate General selected by Robert E. Lee to replace "Stonewall" Jackson as chief of the Second Corps in the Army of Northern Virginia. Ewell is also remembered as the general who failed to drive Federal troops from the high ground of Cemetery Hill and Culp's Hill during the Battle of Gettysburg. Many historians believe that Ewell's inaction cost the Confederates a victory in this seminal battle and, ultimately, cost the Civil War.
During his long military career, Ewell was never an aggressive warrior. He graduated from West Point and served in the Indian wars in Oklahoma, Kansas, New Mexico, and Arizona. In 1861 he resigned his commission in the U.S. Army and rushed to the Confederate standard. Ewell saw action at First Manassas and took up divisional command under Jackson in the Shenandoah Valley Campaign and in the Seven Days' Battles around Richmond.
A crippling wound and a leg amputation soon compounded the persistent manic-depressive disorder that had hindered his ability to make difficult decisions on the battlefield. When Lee reorganized the Army of Northern Virginia in May of 1863, Ewell was promoted to lieutenant general. At the same time he married a widowed first cousin who came to dominate his life—often to the disgust of his subordinate officers—and he became heavily influenced by the wave of religious fervor that was then sweeping through the Confederate Army.
In Confederate General R.S. Ewell, Paul D. Casdorph offers a fresh portrait of a major—but deeply flawed—figure in the Confederate war effort, examining the pattern of hesitancy and indecisiveness that characterized Ewell's entire military career. This definitive biography probes the crucial question of why Lee selected such an obviously inconsistent and unreliable commander to lead one-third of his army on the eve of the Gettysburg Campaign.
Casdorph describes Ewell's intriguing life and career with penetrating insights into his loyalty to the Confederate cause and the Virginia ties that kept him in Lee's favor for much of the war. Complete with riveting descriptions of key battles, Ewell's biography is essential reading for Civil War historians.