Thursday, April 7, 2016

Booknotes: Grenville Mellen Dodge in the Civil War

New Arrival:
Grenville Mellen Dodge in the Civil War: Union Spymaster, Railroad Builder and Organizer of the Fourth Iowa Volunteer Infantry by James Patrick Morgans (McFarland, 2016).
"In 1861, Colonel Grenville Dodge organized the 4th Iowa Volunteer Infantry Regiment and led them off to war. ... Promoted to the rank of major-general, Dodge became one of the youngest divisional, corps and departmental commanders in the Army. A superb field general, he also organized a network of more than 100 spies to gather military intelligence and built railroads to supply the troops in the Western Theater. This book covers Dodge's Civil War career and the history of the 4th Iowa, who fought at Pea Ridge, Vicksburg, Chattanooga and Atlanta."
In addition to running the largest and perhaps best spy network in the western theater, Dodge was also a very capable corps commander, but he might even be more famous as the chief engineer of the Union Pacific Railroad during the construction of North America's first transcontinental railroad. According to Morgans's preface, Dodge has been the subject of two previous biographies, both unsatisfactory and the last published way back in 1967, so this should be a fresh assessment. Paralleling its coverage of Dodge's life before, during, and after the war, Morgans's book also follows the 4th Iowa's Civil War career fairly closely.

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