Thursday, December 7, 2006

Lyftogt: "Iowa's Forgotten General: Matthew Mark Trumbull"

[ Iowa's Forgotten General: Matthew Mark Trumbull and the Civil War by Kenneth Lyftogt (Iowa City, IA: The Camp Pope Bookshop, 2005) Illustrated, maps, notes, bibliography, 108pp. $10]

Active in the Chartist movement, Matthew M. Trumbull was forced to immigrate from England to the U.S. as a young man. When the Civil War came, Trumbull, by then a prominent NE Iowa citizen, was commissioned as a captain in the 3rd Iowa infantry. With Iowa's Forgotten General, Kenneth L. Lyftogt has provided us with a brief but informative military biography of Trumbull. I found this book of interest, mainly for Trumbull's military activities in the historiographically neglected northern half of Missouri in 1861. The author writes of the fights at Shelbina and Blue Mills Landing in some detail. Additionally, the importance of holding and protecting the Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad is not often recognized in other works dealing with the first year of the war in Missouri.

Leaving the Trans-Mississippi theater, the 3rd Iowa's exploits at Shiloh and the Hatchie (Davis Bridge) are also covered, although I would quibble somewhat with Lyftogt's account of the latter. The author also seems to have an unusually (and perhaps uniquely) high opinion of the generalship of Stephen Hurlbut.

Later on in the war, and in poor health, Trumbull resigned his commission, but recovered soon after to recruited and lead the 9th Iowa Cavalry, which to his disappointment was relegated mainly to occupation duties for the duration. Trumbull had an active postwar career as well, gaining prominence as a socialist activist in Chicago.

This slim but worthwhile volume will probably be of most interest to students of the Civil War in Missouri and Arkansas--and Iowa's prominent role in it. The author writes well and his subject is certainly deserving of recognition.

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