Halleck: Lincoln's Chief of Staff

Halleck: Lincoln's Chief of Staff

by Stephen E. Ambrose


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“Halleck originates nothing, anticipates nothing, to assist others; takes no responsibility, plans nothing, suggests nothing, is good for nothing.” Lincoln’s secretary of the navy Gideon Welles’s harsh words embody the stereotype into which Union General-in-Chief Henry Wager Halleck has been cast by most historians since Appomattox. In Halleck: Lincoln’s Chief of Staff, originally published in 1962, Stephen Ambrose challenges the standard interpretation of this controversial figure.

Ambrose argues persuasively that Halleck has been greatly underrated as a war theorist because of past writers’ failure to do justice to his close involvement with movements basic to the development of the American military establishment. He concedes that “by all the touchstones used to judge great captains of the past, Halleck was a failure,” but maintains he was nonetheless “the ‘Old Brains’ of the Union Army in the time of the testing of the nation.”

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780807120712
Publisher: Louisiana State University Press
Publication date: 04/01/1996
Pages: 248
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x (d)

About the Author

Stephen E. Ambrose (1936–2002) was the author of many biographies and histories, including Band of Brothers: E Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne from Normandy to Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest; The Wild Blue: The Men and Boys Who Flew the B-24s over Germany; Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the Opening of the American West; Upton and the Army; and a three-volume biography of Richard Nixon. It was after reading Halleck, Ambrose’s first book, that Dwight Eisenhower asked Ambrose to write his biography.

Date of Birth:

January 10, 1936

Date of Death:

October 13, 2002

Place of Birth:

Whitewater, Wisconsin

Place of Death:

Bay St. Louis, Mississippi


B.A., University of Wisconsin; M.A., Louisiana State University, 1958; Ph.D., University of Wisconsin, 1963

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