Sunday, January 23, 2011

Review: Grant's Lieutenants: From Cairo to Vicksburg

Edited by Steven E. Woodworth

Pointillist paintings, when viewed close up, reveal themselves to be made up of thousands of tiny dots of color.  Stepping back from the painting, the viewer’s eye blends the spots of and the larger picture is revealed.

Editor Steven E. Woodworth has taken the same approach to biography, resulting in a two volume study entitled “Grant’s Lieutenants,” in which he has collected a series of essays by prominent historians.  Each essay focuses on the relationships Ulysses S. Grant formed with his subordinates.  Separately, each essay appears to be a mini-biography of the chosen lieutenant.  But in a larger sense, when read as a whole, it is a retrospective portrait of Grant, the first Lieutenant General in the American army since George Washington.

The first volume, subtitled “From Cairo to Vicksburg,” covers the first half of the Civil War from 1861 to 1863, and highlights Grant’s relationships with William T. Sherman, William H. L. Wallace, Charles F. Smith, Lew Wallace, William S. Rosecrans, John A McClernand, James B. McPherson, Grenville M. Dodge, Peter Osterhouse and admirals Andrew H. Foote and David D. Porter.  Historians who have essays in the book are, respectively, John F. Marszaleck, Steven E. Woodworth, Benjamin F. Cooling (with two essays, the first on Charles F. Smith, and the second on Andrew H. Foote), Stacy D. Allen, Lesley J. Gordon, Terrence J. Winschel, Tamara S. Smith, William B. Feis, Earl J. Hess and R. Blake Dunnavent.

The essays, read in chronological order, cover the battles of Belmont, Fort Henry, Fort Donelson, Shiloh, the siege and battle of Corinth, and the Vicksburg Campaign.  With the inclusion of admirals Foote and Porter, Grant’s embracement of joint use of the navy in conjunction with his army, is also covered. Taken together, the essays demonstrate how Grant developed his leadership style over time grew into a competent and confident General.

ISBN 978-0700611270, University Press of Kansas, © 2001, Hardcover, 264 pages, Endnotes & Index. $29.95

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