Gods and Generals-Brief Summary When the Civil War broke out in 1858, their were many mixed emotions on whether or not their should be a war in the first place. Economic, social and political differences between the Union and the Confederacy led to the war outbreak in the United States. On the side of the Confederate Army, we see a deeply spiritual, humane, gentlemanly General Robert E. Lee, struggling with command decisions that result in sending ill-equipped and out-manned troops into battle against Union forces; and pulling off some brilliant, early war victories that ended anyone's doubts about his leadership abilities. For Lee, the war was a matter of men being able to control their own destiny without being dictated to by and overbearing central government. Then we see former Major Thomas Jackson (later promoted to General), a Mexican War veteran and Virginia Military Institute instructor, driven by his passions for seeing God's will come to fruition by defending the South at all costs; yet struggling with his conscious when he must send boys into battle, knowing the will never return.
We see Confederate President Jefferson Davis command authority to men posturing for political positions and favors, rather than ending the war. Eventually Davis promotes Lee to general, giving him full power over the Union Army, and power over the fate of the South. The Union Army, commanded by the likes of General George McClellan, Joe Hooker and others, is suffocated by mediocrity and ineffectiveness. For the first two years of the war, Union commanders refused to take the offensive when unprovoked.