Gallagher, Gary W(illiam) 1950-
GALLAGHER, Gary W(illiam) 1950-
PERSONAL: Born October 8, 1950, in Glendale, CA; son of William (a farmer) and Shirley (a homemaker; maiden name, Gray) Gallagher; children: William Paul. Education: Adams State College, B.A., 1972; University of Texas at Austin, M.A., 1977, Ph.D., 1982.
CAREER: National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, DC, archivist at Lyndon Baines Johnson Library, 1977-86; Pennsylvania State University, University Park, assistant professor, 1986-89, associate professor, 1989-91, professor of history, 1991-98, and head of department, 1991-95; University of Virginia, Charlottesville, professor of history, 1998-99, John L. Nau III Professor of the History of the American Civil War, 1999—. University of Texas at Austin, visiting lecturer, spring, 1986, George W. Littlefield lecturer, 1995-96. American Battlefield Protection Foundation, member of board of trustees, 1991—.
MEMBER: Organization of American Historians, Society of Civil War Historians, Association for the Preservation of Civil War Sites (president, 1987-94, 1998—, trustee, 1994-96), Southern Historical Association.
AWARDS, HONORS: Grant from National Endowment for the Humanities, 1985; Mellon fellow, Virginia Historical Society, 1988 and 1989; grant from American Council of Learned Societies, 1989-90; Daniel Harvey Hill Award, 1990; Douglas Southall Freeman Prize, 1990, and Founder's Award, 1991, both for Fighting for the Confederacy; Nevins-Freeman Award, 1991; Society of American Historians citation, 1996; Lincoln Prize honorable mention, 1998, for The Confederate War; Fletcher Pratt Award, 1998; Times-Mirror Foundation distinguished fellow at Huntington Library, San Marino, CA, 2001-02; Organization of American Historians Lecturer, 2002—.
(Editor and contributor) Essays on Southern History: Written in Honor of Barnes F. Lathrop, General Libraries, University of Texas at Austin (Austin, TX), 1980.
Stephen Dodson Ramseur: Lee's Gallant General, University of North Carolina Press (Chapel Hill, NC), 1985.
(Editor and contributor) Antietam: Essays on the 1862 Maryland Campaign, Kent State University Press (Kent, OH), 1989.
(Editor) Fighting for the Confederacy: The Personal Recollections of General Edward Porter Alexander, University of North Carolina Press (Chapel Hill, NC), 1989.
(Editor and contributor) Struggle for the Shenandoah: Essays on the 1864 Valley Campaign, Kent State University Press (Kent, OH), 1991.
(Editor and contributor) The First Day at Gettysburg: Essays on Confederate and Union Leadership, Kent State University Press (Kent, OH), 1992.
(Editor and contributor) The Second Day at Gettysburg: Essays on Confederate and Union Leadership, Kent State University Press (Kent, OH), 1993.
(Editor and contributor) The Third Day at Gettysburg and Beyond, University of North Carolina Press (Chapel Hill, NC), 1994.
(Editor and contributor) The Fredericksburg Campaign: Decision on the Rappahannock, University of North Carolina Press (Chapel Hill, NC), 1995.
Jubal A. Early, the Lost Cause, and Civil War History: A Persistent Legacy, Marquette University Press (Milwaukee, WI), 1995.
(Editor and contributor) Lee the Soldier, University of Nebraska Press (Lincoln, NE), 1996.
(Editor and contributor) Chancellorsville: The Battle and Its Aftermath, University of North Carolina Press (Chapel Hill, NC), 1996.
The Confederate War: How Popular Will, Nationalism, and Military Strategy Could Not Stave Off Defeat, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA), 1997.
(Editor and contributor) The Wilderness Campaign, University of North Carolina Press (Chapel Hill, NC), 1997.
(Editor and contributor) The Spotsylvania Campaign, University of North Carolina Press (Chapel Hill, NC), 1998.
Lee and His Generals in War and Memory, Louisiana State University Press (Baton Rouge, LA), 1998.
(Editor and contributor) The Antietam Campaign, University of North Carolina Press (Chapel Hill, NC), 1999.
(Editor and contributor) Three Days at Gettysburg: Essays on Confederate and Union Leadership, Kent State University Press (Kent, OH), 1999.
(Editor and contributor, with Alan T. Nolan) The Myth of the Lost Cause and Civil War History, Indiana University Press (Bloomington, IN), 2001.
Lee and His Army in Confederate History, University of North Carolina Press (Chapel Hill, NC), 2001.
The American Civil War: The War in the East, 1861-May 1863, Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers (Chicago, IL), 2001.
(Editor and contributor) The Richmond Campaign of 1862: The Peninsula and the Seven Days, University of North Carolina Press (Chapel Hill, NC), 2002.
(Editor and contributor) The Shenandoah Valley Campaign of 1862, University of North Carolina Press (Chapel Hill, NC), 2003.
Work represented in anthologies, including The Civil War Battlefield Guide, edited by Frances H. Kennedy, Houghton Mifflin, 1990; The Confederate General, edited by William C. Davis, six volumes, National Historical Society, 1991—; Why the Confederacy Lost, edited by Gabor S. Boritt, Oxford University Press, 1991; Ken Burns's "The Civil War": Historians Respond, edited by Robert Brent Toplin, Oxford University Press, 1996; New Perspectives on the Civil War: Myths and Realities of the National Conflict, edited by John Y. Simon and Michael E. Stevens, Madison House, 1998; Writing the Civil War: The Quest to Understand, edited by James M. McPherson and William J. Cooper, Jr., University of South Carolina Press, 1998. Contributor of articles and reviews to history and military journals.
WORK IN PROGRESS: An assessment of Confederate general Jubal A. Early and his role in shaping perceptions about the war; an interpretive study of Civil War military history that emphasizes connections between the home front and the battlefield.
SIDELIGHTS: Gary W. Gallagher is a prolific and prominent historian of the U.S. Civil War, dealing with both the actual events of the war and the mythology that has developed around them. Chicago Tribune contributor James A. Ramage has described Gallagher as "one of today's foremost Civil War historians," and Washington Times commentator Mackubin Thomas Owens has called him "one of the best of a new generation of Civil War scholars." His work, as both writer and editor, has emphasized the importance of military history at a time when it had fallen out of favor among some academics. He has chronicled many of the major campaigns of the war's eastern theater, dissected both romantic and revisionist views of the Confederacy, and scrutinized the generalship and postwar reputation of Southern commander Robert E. Lee.
In The Confederate War: How Popular Will, Nationalism, and Military Strategy Could Not Stave Off Defeat, Gallagher disputes the idea held by many late-twentieth-century historians that the Southern war effort was fatally undermined by dissension within the Confederacy, including resentment of economic inequities, distrust of centralized government, and perhaps an unconscious distaste for defending the institution of slavery. On the contrary, he asserts, there was deep and wide support for the war; more than three-quarters of Southern white men of military age served in the army, as opposed to half of the North's available fighters, and civilians had great loyalty to their young country and reverence for Lee. It was only the North's greater military might, not any lack of Southern resolve, that brought the Union victory, he contends. He draws on hundreds of Civil War letters and diary entries to provide examples of this resolve.
Gallagher "argues that the current emphasis on class, race and gender on the home front exaggerates tensions in Southern society and distorts the picture," related Ramage in the Chicago Tribune. His case, Ramage added, is "well-organized and well-presented." Jonathan Yardley, writing in the Washington Post Book World, deemed Gallagher's evidence "impressive if limited," but thought the author failed to address "a central and well-founded tenet of the conventional wisdom: that the South was doomed from the outset by an agrarian economy" with little heavy industry. Yardley allowed, however, that the South "prolonged the conflict to an almost unimaginable extent precisely for the reasons Gallagher cites: its puissant nationalism, its devotion to its 'cause,' the genius of its chief military leaders and the dogged bravery of its soldiers." Civil War History reviewer Christopher Phillips described The Confederate War as "an extremely satisfying book" that demonstrates the importance of studying military history, and Ramage concluded that Gallagher's "bold revisions make this one of the most significant works in this generation of Civil War literature."
Gallagher returns to this theme in Lee and His Army in Confederate History, a collection of essays on the Southern military leader and key battles. "Gallagher revives the overwhelming numbers and resources explanation for Confederate defeat, shorn of its false aura of inevitability," commented James M. McPherson in the New York Review of Books. McPherson continued that Gallagher argues "forcefully and convincingly" that the South's "white unity and strength of purpose," even with its army outnumbered and outgunned, made it a tenacious foe for the Union throughout the conflict.
In Lee and His Generals in War and Memory, Gallagher makes a "persuasive" case that Lee himself was "a significant factor in prolonging the life of the Confederacy," observed Joseph L. Harsh in Civil War History. This book, according to Washington Times contributor Owens, "provides a balanced assessment of Lee the soldier—avoiding the dual pitfalls of Lost Cause hagiography and the Lee bashing that too often characterizes the work of revisionists." Gallagher's work, Owens continued, offers a picture of "Lee's great qualities, including most of all his ability to compensate for weak subordinates," as well as discussion of instances where his strategies went wrong, such as at Gettysburg.
Gallagher devotes space to several of Lee's subordinate commanders, both the weak and the strong, and shows how one of them, Jubal A. Early, helped develop and popularize the romanticized Lost Cause view of the Confederacy. Early crafted "for future generations a written record that celebrated the Confederacy's hopeless but heroic military resistance against the overwhelming power of the Union," Owens remarked. This view also idealized Lee, downplayed slavery, and portrayed the South as fighting primarily for independence. It gained many adherents in the late nineteenth century and far into the twentieth, even though modern academic historians have put forth some decidedly different views. "Gallagher illustrates how even today, the Lost Cause interpretation dominates both historiography and popular images of the war," commented Owens. Willard Carl Klunder, reviewing the book for the Historian, noted that Gallagher "cogently argues that the romantic image of the 'Lost Cause' is based as much on perception as fact." Lee and His Generals, Klunder added, "augments Gallagher's reputation as a thoughtful interpreter of Civil War military history."
The Myth of the Lost Cause and Civil War History, which Gallagher edited with Alan T. Nolan, further addresses the growth and persistence of the Lost Cause viewpoint, with Gallagher contributing an essay on Early's role. Gallagher's work as an editor and contributor to volumes of essays also includes anthologies on Lee and on major battles including Gettysburg, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Spotsylvania, and the Virginia Peninsula campaign. Critiquing The Richmond Campaign of 1862: The Peninsula and the Seven Days for Civil War History, Richard J. Sommers praised Gallagher's "graceful and learned editorship." The Spotsylvania Campaign, George C. Rable wrote in History: Review of New Books, is "a fine piece of work," gathering varied perspectives and challenging conventional viewpoints. In Chancellorsville: The Battle and Its Aftermath, with historians emphasizing new interpretations and including first-hand observations from, among others, children and military doctors, Gallagher "has again shown why he is a master editor-historian," in the opinion of Civil War History contributor Ervin L. Jordan, Jr. With both his writing and editing work, as Phillips reported in that same journal, Gallagher "has become one of the most well-regarded of our Civil War scholars."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, October 15, 2000, Jay Freeman, review of The Myth of the Lost Cause and Civil War History, p. 415.
Chicago Tribune, October 1, 1997, James A. Ramage, "A Well-Reasoned View of What Kept the South Going," Tempo section, p. 3.
Civil War History, September, 1997, Ervin L. Jordan, Jr., review of Chancellorsville: The Battle and Its Aftermath, pp. 250-251; March, 1998, Arthur W. Bergeron, Jr., review of The Wilderness Campaign, p. 62; September, 1998, Christopher Phillips, review of The Confederate War: How Popular Will, Nationalism, and Military Strategy Could Not Stave Off Defeat, p. 221; June, 1999, Joseph M. Priest, review of The Spotsylvania Campaign, p. 163; September 1, 1999, Joseph L. Harsh, review of Lee and His Generals in War and Memory, p. 271; December 1, 1999, Arthur W. Bergeron, Jr., review of The Antietam Campaign, p. 357, Jeffry D. Wert, review of Three Days at Gettysburg: Essays on Confederate and Union Leadership, p. 363; December 1, 2001, James Tice Moore, review of The Myth of the Lost Cause and Civil War History, p. 354; June, 2002, Richard J. Sommers, review of The Richmond Campaign of 1862: The Peninsula and the Seven Days, p. 172.
Historian, spring, 2000, Willard Carl Klunder, review of Lee and His Generals in War and Memory, p. 655; fall, 2000, Daniel E. Sutherland, review of The Antietam Campaign, p. 148.
History: Review of New Books, spring, 1999, George C. Rable, review of The Spotsylvania Campaign, p. 105.
Journal of Southern History, May, 2002, James M. Morris, review of The Richmond Campaign of 1862, p. 575.
Library Journal, June 15, 1998, Brooks D. Simpson, review of Lee and His Generals in War and Memory, p. 91; October 15, 2000, Jim Doyle, review of The Myth of the Lost Cause and Civil War History, p. 84.
New York Review of Books, June 13, 2001, James M. McPherson, "Could the South Have Won?," pp. 23-25.
Washington Post Book World, September 24, 1997, Jonathan Yardley, "A New Perspective on a Lost Cause," p. D2.
Washington Times, September 27, 1997, Kevin Levin, "'Lack of Will' Theory Takes a Beating," p. B3; December 16, 2000, Kevin Levin, "Finding the Truth about 'Lost Cause,'" p. B3; September 25, 1999, Mackubin Thomas Owens, "Lee, Flaws and Genius Intact," p. B3.
University of Virginia, http://www.virginia.edu/ (November 8, 2003), author profile.