Synopses & Reviews
From his first court martial as a cadet at West Point through his dismissal from the United States Army at the age of 49, Justus McKinstry made his career through outright cunning and manipulation of the legal system. Graduating from West Point in 1838, he eventually landed a long-sought-after position in the quartermaster corps. During his service here he took advantage of the extraordinary wartime circumstances to betray the public trust and make a profit for himself in the guise of acquiring much needed supplies. He was brought before a court of inquiry or a court martial six times during his nefarious career, yet only one time were charges initiated from within the Army itself. The final charges?once again initiated from a source outside the Army?brought his crimes to light and resulted in his dismissal from the service. This biography takes a look at the forces within the life of Brigadier General Justus McKinstry that shaped him into the man he eventually became. It briefly discusses his upbringing as well as his unprecedented six years at West Point and his service during the Second Seminole and Mexican wars. The bulk of the text, however, concentrates on his Civil War commission and his duties as an officer of the quartermaster corps, especially his position as Chief Quartermaster of the Department of the West during the summer and fall of 1861. Special emphasis is placed on the ways in which the system itself failed McKinstry, bringing into question the ability of the Army to police itself. Sources incorporate an abundance of official records from the time period, including a transcript of McKinstry's final court martial.