Monday, April 13, 2020

Book News: Courage Above All Things

Major General John E. Wool was one of those highly respected yet superannuated Old Army officers entrusted with mostly administrative roles during the Civil War. Before he finally retired in 1863, he had led at one time or another three eastern theater military departments (East, Virginia, and Middle). "At the onset of the Civil War, when he assumed command of the Department of the East, Wool had been a brigadier general for twenty years and, at age seventy-seven, was the oldest general on either side of the conflict." Harwood Hinton and Jerry Thompson's Courage Above All Things: General John Ellis Wool and the U.S. Military, 1812–1863 "marks the first full biography of Wool, who aside from his unparalleled military service, figured prominently in many critical moments in nineteenth-century U.S. history."

This Wool biography appears to have been a passion project for Harwood Hinton, who was a history professor at the University of Arizona and devoted half a century to researching and writing this book before his untimely passing in 2016. Finished by noted Southwest historian Jerry Thompson, "(t)his deeply researched and deftly written volume incorporates the latest scholarship to offer a clear and detailed account of John Ellis Wool’s extraordinary life—his character, his life experiences, and his career, in wartime and during uneasy periods of relative peace. Hinton and Thompson provide a thorough account of all chapters in Wool’s life, including three major wars," [War of 1812, War with Mexico, and American Civil War] "the Cherokee Removal, and battles with Native Americans on the West Coast."

Civil War readers, if they give Wool much of a second thought, remember him most for his actions on the Virginia Peninsula and his part in quelling the New York City draft riots. I don't know if I will be able to set aside the time necessary to digest the entire book, which will apparently run well over 500 pages, but I am certainly interested in reading the Civil War sections. Publisher University of Oklahoma Press currently has it scheduled for an October 2020 release.

1 comment:

  1. Hinton's Dissertation on Wool dates back to 1960. It's available online...

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