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The Civil War Generals: Comrades, Peers, Rivals--In Their Own Wordsby Robert I. Girardi
Synopses & Reviews
Civil War Generals offers a treasure trove of firsthand accounts revealing what military generals thought and said about one another during this era of American history.
Historian Robert I. Girardi has drawn on more than 170 sources, including letters, diaries, and memoirs, to compile a record of the personalities of four hundred Civil War generals and how they were perceived by their peers—as well as by their subordinates and prominent figures of the day, including Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis. More than simply a collection of quotes, Civil War Generals provides a rich framework for understanding these men in the context of the greatest conflict in American history.
In many cases, multiple perspectives describing the same general create a particularly nuanced view of the individual’s character and leadership. The remarks featured range from commendatory to sardonic and reproachful, occasionally both:
“He was an excellent officer; cool, brave, and intelligent; he always did his duty admirably, and was an honest man.”
—George B. McClellan on George G. Meade
“It is to be regretted that any of his biographers should claim for him skill and grace as a horseman, when they have with truth so much of real greatness to tell of him.”
—Dabney H. Maury on Stonewall Jackson
“He looked like a highly independent mounted newsboy.”
—Theodore Lyman on Francis C. Barlow
“It is plain from Admiral Porter’s account that Banks is no general, has no military capacity, is wholly unfit for the position assigned him.”
—Gideon Wells on Nathaniel P. Banks
To put these compliments and criticisms into historical and cultural perspective, Girardi opens the book with an essay on leadership and the military during the Civil War as well as a chapter of quotations dedicated to observations on the nature of generalship. Additionally, a closing chapter of quotations that deal with multiple individuals or even entire groups provides a look at how these men were viewed in comparison to one another.
With striking archival photographs and a roster of names both renowned and obscure, Civil War Generals is an enlightening and humanizing take on the colorful personalities that took part in greatest of American conflicts: the Civil War.
Robert Girardi earned his master’s degree in public history from Loyola University. He is a past president of the Civil War Round Table of Chicago and the 2010 recipient of its prestigious Nevins-Freeman Award for the advancement of American Civil War scholarship and support for the Round Table movement. He is also the current vice president of the Salt Creek Civil War Round Table, a fellow of the Company of Military Historians, and a member of the editorial review board of the Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society.
He has spoken to historical societies and Civil War groups all over the United States and has been interviewed on both radio and television. He is the author or editor of eight previous books, including The New Annals of the Civil War and Gettysburg in Art and Artifacts.
Drawing on more than 170 sources, The Civil War Generals offers an unvarnished and largely unknown window into what military generals wrote and said about each other during the Civil War era.
Robert I. Girardi (Chicago, IL) has been fascinated with the Civil War his entire life. He has studied the war from all sides and has tramped over many of the battlefields and related sites. He has collected artifacts and memorabilia, read through thousands of documents and letters written by participants, and spoken to historical societies and Civil War groups all over the United States.
Robert earned his master’s degree in public history at Loyola University of Chicago in 1991. He is a past president of the Civil War Round Table of Chicago, a fellow of the Company of Military Historians, and an associate member of the Sons of Union Veterans. He is on the board of directors of the Illinois State Historical Society, as well as the editorial review board of its journal, and has consulted for the Chicago Historical Society on its Civil War exhibits. He was the 2010 recipient of the Chicago CWRT’s Nevins-Freeman Award.
Robert is the author or editor of eight books: Gettysburg in Art and Artifacts; The Civil War Art of Keith Rocco; Campaigning with Uncle Billy: The Civil War Memoirs of Sgt. Lyman S. Widney, 34th Illinois Volunteer Infantry; The Soldier’s View: The Civil War Art of Keith Rocco; The New Annals of the Civil War; The Memoirs of Brigadier General William Passmore Carlin, U.S.A.; The Military Memoirs of General John Pope;and Captain H. W. Chester’s Recollections of the War of the Rebellion.
When the Civil War began, there were only five generals in the United States Army. By the time it ended, there were over one thousand.In The Civil War Generals, historian Robert I. Girardi pulls together quotations on four hundred such generals by their fellow officers (as well as prominent historical figures) that speak to their personal and private character, as well as to their strength as leaders.
Drawing on more than 170 different sources and featuring archival photographs that put faces to the names, this unique collection provides a fascinating look at the many diverse personalities of Civil War leadership that will appeal to history buffs, general history readers, and serious researchers alike.
The Civil War Generals offers an unvarnished and largely unknown window into what military generals wrote and said about each other during the Civil War era. Drawing on more than 170 sources—including the letters, diaries, and memoirs of the general officers of the Union and Confederate armies, as well as their staff officers and other prominent figures—Civil War historian Robert Girardi has compiled a valuable record of who these generals were and how they were perceived by their peers. The quotations within paint revealing pictures of the private subjects at hand and, just as often, the people writing about them—a fascinating look at the many diverse personalities of Civil War leadership.
More than just a collection of quotations, The Civil War Generals is also a valuable research tool, moving beyond the best-known figures to provide contemporary character descriptions of more than 400 Civil War generals. The quotes range in nature from praise to indictment, and differing opinions of each individual give a balanced view, making the book both entertaining and informative. A truly one-of-a-kind compilation illustrated with approximately 100 historical photographs, The Civil War Generals will find a home not only with the casual reader and history buff, but also with the serious historian and researcher.
About the Author
Table of Contents
Appendix A: Maps
Appendix B: The Contributors
Appendix C: The Battles
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