Southern Cross

A New View of Leonidas Polk and His Clashes with Braxton Bragg


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About the Book

Lieutenant General Leonidas Polk was a distinguished West Point graduate, the first Episcopal Bishop of Louisiana, a university founder, and a Confederate commander beloved by his troops, esteemed by the public, and killed on the field of battle. In spite of his many accomplishments, historians invariably disparage Polk’s generalship and even his personal character—but is their treatment fair or accurate?
This work employs a balanced perspective to shed new light on Polk’s military leadership and reveal unexpected truths that explain his conflict with General Braxton Bragg. A seemingly insignificant piece of correspondence, along with an exploration of both men’s writings, coalesce into an understanding of the root cause of the command dysfunction and chronic failures of the Army of Tennessee.

About the Author(s)

As the daughter of an army officer, Amanda Low Warren was immersed from an early age in military history. She grew up on army posts including Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, where she rode horses from the stable which sheltered the mounts of J.E.B. Stuart and other legends of the antebellum U.S. Army. Her reviews of Civil War books appear on numerous forums. Also a musician, Warren performs Civil War period music at historic sites, including the home of her ancestor who hosted General Sherman during his 1864 “visit” to Savannah, Georgia. She lives in Flowery Branch, Georgia.

Bibliographic Details

Amanda Low Warren
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 242
Bibliographic Info: 48 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2024
pISBN: 978-1-4766-9382-8
eISBN: 978-1-4766-5238-2
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Introduction 1

Chapter 1. From Cadet to Bishop to General 3

Chapter 2. “Gibraltar of the West” 15

Chapter 3. Shiloh 24

Chapter 4. Perryville 46

Chapter 5. Middle Tennessee 60

Chapter 6. Trouble in Army of Tennessee High Command 77

Chapter 7. Was Polk Insubordinate? 100

Chapter 8. Chickamauga 109

Chapter 9. Independent Command in Mississippi 140

Chapter 10. The Atlanta Campaign 160

Chapter 11. Historians’ Negative Portrayal of Polk 173

Chapter 12. Polk’s True Nature and Personality 199

Chapter 13. Bragg vs. Polk 204

Last Words 210

Chapter Notes 213

Bibliography 223

Index 227

Book Reviews & Awards

• “No matter how numerous, accusations without a defense do not constitute a trial. If General Leonidas Polk is to be properly judged before the bar of history, he deserves a defense. Amanda Warren provides one that is a keeper.”—Philip Leigh, author of The Confederacy at Flood Tide: The Political and Military Ascension, June to December 1862

• “Amanda Warren’s Southern Cross is the best military biography of the South’s ‘Fighting Bishop’ to be written in decades. Well researched and superbly written, it casts serious doubt on some of the criticisms of General Leonidas Polk’s military abilities, as well as some of the unjust attacks on his personal character. Highly recommended.”—Samuel W. Mitcham Jr., author of The Encyclopedia of Confederate Generals