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Major General Robert E. Rodes - Reading Guide

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A Biography

Darrell L. Collins

Format: Hardcover, 504 pages
Price: $32.95
ISBN: 978-1932714-09-8
eBook: 978-1-61121-009-5
On Sale: June 2008

26 photos and illustrations, maps

Winner: Douglas Southall Freeman Award for 2009

Finalist: Army Historical Foundation's Distinguished Writing Award for Biography (2009)



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Reading Book Guide

General Robert E. Rodes and the Army of Northern Virginia, by Darrell L. Collins

Collins' General Robert E. Rodes and the Army of Northern Virginia is a freshly researched and complete biography of one of Lee's best division commanders. We hope these thought-provoking questions lead to some lively book discussions.

  1. What qualified Rodes, the only division commander in the Army of Northern Virginia without a West Point education, for high command?
  2. Though having greatly benefited from it himself, why did Rodes strongly disapprove of the policy of electing regimental officers?
  3. How did First Manassas change Rodes personally and as a commander?
  4. Having emerged from the Battle of Seven Pines with public laurels that called for "Crown[ing] the young chieftan who led his brigade," how well did Rodes perform in his first real test of combat?
  5. Was Rodes' stubborn fight on South Mountain perhaps his greatest contribution to the Confederate cause? If not, then what?
  6. Though Rodes and his division undoubtedly contributed greatly to the success of Jackson's flank march and attack on the Eleventh Corps at Chancellorsville, did Rodes make the right decision in requesting a suspension of the attack with the onset of darkness? And after the fall of Jackson and the wounding of A.P. Hill, should Rodes have refused to relinquish command of the corps to cavalryman Jeb Stuart? Finally, though his major general's commission cited May 2 as the day of Rodes' greatest contributions, did Rodes and his division perform an even greater service the following day?
  7. How responsible was Rodes for the Confederate failure to take Cemetery Hill on the first day at Gettysburg, and what accounted for his poor performance on the second day?
  8. Was Rodes correct in blocking the promotion of Colonel Edward O'Neal, and how well did he handle the ensuing controversy and storms of protest?
  9. Though Rodes handled his brigades masterfully at Spottsylvania, why did General Lee indirectly criticize him for the enemy breakthrough at Doles' Salient in the Mule Shoe?
  10. How involved was Rodes in the downfall of his superior officer Richard Ewell, and why was Rodes never in serious contention to replace him as permanent commander of the Second Corps?
  11. Did Rodes' near pathological obsession with discipline help or hurt him as a commander? Furthermore, Rodes was genuinely liked and admired by his fellow officers, with the notable exception of Col. O'Neal. Did his genial, affable, easy-going nature when off duty, and his striking personal appearance help or hurt him as a commander?
  12. Though always coveting promotion in both civilian and military life, Rodes never openly sought advancement. How genuine was his professed humility and apparent disdain for self-advertisement?

Darrell L. Collins

A native of Ann Arbor, Michigan, Darrell L. Collins is the author of several books on the Civil War... Read More...

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