Leaders of the American Civil War: A Biographical and Historiographical Dictionary

By Charles F. Ritter; Jon L. Wakelyn | Go to book overview

PREFACE

For the leaders included in this volume, the Civil War constituted the major event of their lives. For most of them, their participation in that war was also the major activity and accomplishment of their busy and important careers. They have been selected for inclusion in this dictionary, then, because of their various major contributions to that war. A number of the leaders included in this book have been regarded as some of the most important and greatest leaders in this country’s history. Some, however, have neither received full due for their contributions to the war nor been regarded as great leaders. But each of them, in the many different kinds of service needed in modern warfare, made a major impact on his or her respective side’s war effort. All forty-seven, it will be shown, deserve to be called important leaders of the Civil War.

Because the study of warfare continues to evolve, we have become increasingly aware of its complicated nature and the types of activity required for its function. Although the great military officers remain the central focus of leadership in warfare, and make up the major category of those included in this volume, other leaders, too, deserve study. Civilian political leaders Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis, as presidents and commanders in chief of their respective war machines, used their most important government subordinates to make and carry out war policies. Those so-called lesser governmental and political leaders were integral to the war’s functioning. Government leaders supported the activities of the military leaders, as they provided food, clothing, and armaments and delivered personnel to the front lines. In the Civil War, the interaction of central and state authorities was crucial to the recruitment of troops and to financing the war. War governors’ activities thus became important to the success or failure of the war effort. In addition, members of the congressional leadership bridged the gap between state and central policies, and the most important of them dealt with the legislative policies of the central governments. Behind the lines, a number of leaders, often neglected by students of warfare,

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