Wednesday, November 8, 2017

The Commanders: Civil War Generals Who Shaped the American West

I've never actually bothered to see if such a thing existed already, but I've often thought it might be interesting to study in what ways Civil War officers who later figured prominently in the Indian Wars of the last half of the nineteenth century applied their considerably honed expertise fighting both conventional and unconventional Confederate enemies to the subjugation of the western tribes. I don't know if that will be a particular theme of Robert Utley's upcoming The Commanders: Civil War Generals Who Shaped the American West (Oklahoma, Feb 2018), but the book sounds like it might be something up my alley.

The Commanders "examines the careers of seven military leaders who served as major generals for the Union in the Civil War, then as brigadier generals in command of the U.S. Army’s western departments." By looking at the fighting careers of the generals during both conflicts, "Utley makes a unique contribution in delineating these commanders’ strengths and weaknesses."

More from the description: "While some of the book’s subjects—notably Generals George Crook and Nelson A. Miles—are well known, most are no longer widely remembered. Yet their actions were critical in the expansion of federal control in the West. The commanders effected the final subjugation of American Indian tribal groups, exercising direct oversight of troops in the field as they fought the wars that would bring Indians under military and government control. After introducing readers to postwar army doctrine, organization, and administration, Utley takes each general in turn, describing his background, personality, eccentricities, and command style and presenting the rudiments of the campaigns he prosecuted. Crook embodied the ideal field general, personally leading his troops in their operations, though with varying success. Christopher C. Augur and John Pope, in contrast, preferred to command from their desks in department headquarters, an approach that led both of them to victory on the battlefield. And Miles, while perhaps the frontier army’s most detestable officer, was also its most successful in the field." It certainly appears that the book might have significant crossover appeal. I'm also impressed that the great Robert Utley is still writing serious history books at the age of 88!

1 comment:

  1. The remaining three guys Mr Utley is tackling are Howard, Ord, and Terry.


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