Review: Grant’s Lieutenants: From Chattanooga to Appomattox

Grant’s Lieutenants: From Chattanooga to Appomattox (Modern War Studies)
Edited by Steven E. Woodworth

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 263 pages
  • Publisher: University Press of Kansas (June 19, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 070061589X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0700615896

GrantsLieutenantsFromChattanoogaToAppomattoxWoodworthDoing a book of essays is challenging.  Each essay needs to contribute to a central theme while being able to standalone.  The essayists bring different perspectives and styles that need to mesh or the result is a mess.  Weaving this into a recognizable intelligent book that contributes to the readers understanding of the main subject is no small accomplishment.  Steven E. Woodworth once again demonstrates his ability to do just that.  This is the second book of essays on Grant’s Lieutenants he has edited.  This book benefits from star power covering the campaigns where Grant deals with major Civil War figures.  While covering Thomas, Meade, Halleck, Sheridan & Sherman, we see a number of obscure generals too.  This approach gives us a balanced look what Grant faced and how he managed to handle this very mixed group of men.

Woodworth’s essay on George H. Thomas is one of the best things written about Thomas.  In 24 pages, he provides a balanced portrait and covers the difficulties of his relationship with Grant.  The considerable Thomas fan club will find much here to be upset over but this is one of the fairest looks at the man I have seen.

Ethan S. Rafuse looks at George G. Meade in the longest essay in the book.  This is the critical relationship during this period and gets the required space.  This excellent piece captures the contentious, friendly and often difficult relationship.  This is very factual, devoid of sentiment or blame detailing the command structure that wins the war in Virginia.

Earl J. Hess covers the always-difficult Franz Sigel and Grant’s immersion in ethnic politics.  Benjamin Franklin Cooling provides a different perspective on Jubal Early’s 1864 Raid and the North’s response looking at Hunter, Wallace and Wright.  This leads us into Steven E. Nash’s excellent look at Philip H. Sheridan.  Grant was not always right about people and William B. Feis gives us an example of this with Edward O. C. Ord.

Mark Grimsley contributes two excellent views given Benjamin F. Butler he made the case that Henry W. Halleck had to be included.  After getting them to agree, he got the assignment to write it.  The happy result is two excellent essays that fairly cover these difficult generals.

You will not find a detailed in-depth analysis in 20-pages.  It is not possible to produce something readable in that short a space.  What you have is an excellent overview of these men.  While not highly detailed, nothing important is omitted and many secondary items are considered.  Each author is a respected historian with deep knowledge of the subject and excellent writing skills.  The result is an enjoyable, informative read that completes the series on a high note.


Editor’s Note: Jim is a Top 500 reviewer.

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