Commander of All Lincoln's Armies
Commander of All Lincoln's Armies

Commander of All Lincoln's Armies

by John F. Marszalek

NOOK Book(eBook)

$25.49 $42.00 Save 39% Current price is $25.49, Original price is $42. You Save 39%.
View All Available Formats & Editions

Available on Compatible NOOK Devices and the free NOOK Apps.
WANT A NOOK?  Explore Now

Overview

In the summer of 1862, President Lincoln called General Henry W. Halleck to Washington, D.C., to take command of all Union armies in the death struggle against the Confederacy. For the next two turbulent years, Halleck was Lincoln's chief war advisor, the man the President deferred to in all military matters. Yet, despite the fact that he was commanding general far longer than his successor, Ulysses S. Grant, he is remembered only as a failed man, ignored by posterity. In the first comprehensive biography of Halleck, the prize-winning historian John F. Marszalek recreates the life of a man of enormous achievement who bungled his most important mission. When Lincoln summoned him to the nation's capital, Halleck boasted outstanding qualifications as a military theorist, a legal scholar, a brave soldier, and a California entrepreneur. Yet in the thick of battle, he couldn't make essential decisions. Unable to produce victory for the Union forces, he saw his power become subsumed by Grant's emergent leadership, a loss that paved the way for Halleck's path to obscurity. Harnessing previously unused research, as well as the insights of modern medicine and psychology, Marszalek unearths the seeds of Halleck's fatal wartime indecisiveness in personality traits and health problems. In this brilliant dissection of a rich and disappointed life, we gain new understanding of how the key decisions of the Civil War were taken, as well as insight into the making of effective military leadership.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780674040649
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Publication date: 06/30/2009
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 961,267
File size: 651 KB

About the Author

John F. Marszalek is W. L. Giles Distinguished Professor of History Emeritus, Mississippi State University.

Table of Contents

Contents Prologue 1. Born to Gentility, Educated to Elitism 2. Army Engineer at Home and Abroad 3. War and Peace in California 4. From Soldier to Businessman 5. From Peace to War 6. Commander of the Western Theater 7. Supreme Commander 8. War by Washington Telegraph 9. The Western Generals Bring Success 10. Chief of Staff under Grant 11. From War to Peace Bibliographical Essay Abbreviations Used in the Notes Notes Acknowledgments Illustration Credits Index

What People are Saying About This

James M. McPherson

In this first full-scale biography of Henry W. Halleck, John Marszalek offers a balanced appraisal of that controversial general's strengths and weaknesses. An excellent administrator, Halleck could not make command decisions. A disappointment as general in chief, he nevertheless helped organize Union victory in the Civil War. This important book provides new insights on the Union command structure.
James M. McPherson, author of Hallowed Ground: A Walk at Gettysburg

Harold Holzer

Often ignored, often disparaged, Henry W. Halleck has long required a serious biography by an accomplished Civil War historian. John Marszalek's effort was worth the wait. This book finally sheds light on how 'Old Brains' earned his moniker, and what he did-and gallingly failed to do-that caused him to forfeit it. Here is a highly valuable, highly readable contribution to Civil War scholarship that not only paints a vivid portrait of a complex life, but sheds much new light on the complexities of 19-century military command.
Harold Holzer, co-Chairman of the US Lincoln Bicentennial Commission

Early in the Civil War, Ulysses S. Grant assessed Henry W. Halleck as, 'a man of gigantic intellect and well studied in the profession of arms.' Grant and Abraham Lincoln, among others, would eventually abandon that admiration. In a meticulously researched and intellectually probing biography, John F. Marszalek explores the psychological and physical causes of Halleck's disappointing performance. In a path-breaking biography, Marszalek brings a new perspective to the interpretation of the Civil War.

William C. Davis

'Old Brains' seemed an unlikely sobriquet for an officer whom most senior commanders in the Union Army regarded as bumbling and indecisive as a field commander, and hide-bound by paperwork as an administrator. Yet, for good or ill, few officers in Lincoln's army exerted more influence over the course of the Civil War than Henry W. Halleck. John F. Marszalek, one of our finest scholars of the era, provides the first in-depth look at Halleck in more than forty years, and surely the finest work on the subject we are likely to get.
William C. Davis, author of Lone Star Rising: The Revolutionary Birth of the Texas Republic

Russell Weigley

Not only does this study fill a biographical void; it is also remarkably evenhanded for an examination of a figure who never quite measured up to the Civil War responsibilities of his offices… Scrupulous in its scholarship and fair in its judgments, John Marszalek brings to the work a comprehensive mastery of Civil War history that is indispensable.
Russell Weigley, author of The American Way of War: A History of United States Military Strategy and Policy

John Y. Simon

Early in the Civil War, Ulysses S. Grant assessed Henry W. Halleck as, 'a man of gigantic intellect and well studied in the profession of arms.' Grant and Abraham Lincoln, among others, would eventually abandon that admiration. In a meticulously researched and intellectually probing biography, John F. Marszalek explores the psychological and physical causes of Halleck's disappointing performance. In a path-breaking biography, Marszalek brings a new perspective to the interpretation of the Civil War.

John Y. Simon, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale

Craig L. Symonds

Henry Halleck has often been dismissed by students of the Civil War as a kind of glorified clerk. That is because until now no scholar has managed to bring to light the full history of this obviously gifted, but equally troubled and complex individual. In this rich and readable biography, John Marszalek at last gives us a convincing three-dimensional portrait of the man who commanded all of Lincoln's armies in America's greatest war. And in so doing, he has not only clarified Halleck's role in the war, he has enhanced our understanding of the war itself.
Craig L. Symonds, U.S. Naval Academy

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

Commander of All Lincoln's Armies: A Life of General Henry W. Halleck 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Shrike58 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Having never read Ambrose¿s biography, I didn¿t have that great a sense of Henry Halleck the man, except as being another of the overly methodical Union generals that ultimately had to be pushed aside to allow the likes of Grant and Sherman to win the American Civil War. What I didn¿t appreciate was the high level of public esteem that Halleck had when he rose to the summit of Union military command, or how ineffective he was in this position of military authority. Let¿s just say that it was unfortunate that there was never an administrator that could quite replace Halleck, as it would have been for the good of all if this had occurred, on the grounds of ill health if nothing else.What I¿m not buying is some of Marszalek¿s psycho-historical analysis of the roots of Halleck¿s incapacities as a military executive, such as how he would not take the reins as active director of operations, or how he allowed himself to be cowed by the likes of Gen. George McClellan. Even if you grant that Halleck¿s catastrophic relationship with his father certainly didn¿t help, and probably laid the foundations of the man¿s inflexible tendencies, it would seem more likely that lack of active command was at the base of Halleck¿s inability to assert himself over his field commanders when that was precisely the brief that Pres. Lincoln and Secretary of War Stanton gave Halleck. It¿s actually all rather pathetic.