Confederate Crackers and Cavaliers
by Grady McWhiney
This is Grady McWhiney at his finest. Confederate Crackers and Cavaliers is a collection of seventeen essays on a wide variety of topics relating to Confederate leadership and war-making.
The role of culture in the coming of the war is explored in depth as are the differences between Southern “Crackers” and “Cavaliers”. Battlefield leadership is also discussed, including pieces on A. P. Hill, P. G.l T. Beauregard, Braxton Bragg, and Leonidas Polk.
Other important essays include work on why the South fired the first shot of the war, how 1862 was actually the “doom year” of the Confederacy, and a treatment of the tactical revolution that occurred between the beginning of the Mexican War and the end of the Civil War. There are more than a few surprises. One chapter, entitled “Sex and Chivalry”, investigates the role of West Point in shaping the deportment of America’s class of military gentlemen.
Jefferson Davis, though, looms largest in this book. From his days along the banks of the Hudson, to his service in Mexico, to an analysis of his war leadership as president of the Confederacy, McWhiney investigates this tarnished American hero whom, the author claims, has been almost as vilified by Americans as Adolf Hitler .
McWhiney is known for his unconventional stances. While his work is sometimes controversial, often hotly debated, and nearly always provocative, it can never be ignored. After a long sabbatical from publishing, this astonishing author and historian is back at work.