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

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

had major parts in the war effort. Businessmen, bankers, and manufacturers provided the resources of war. Jay Cooke, the Union’s major fund-raiser, and Joseph Anderson, the Confederacy’s most important arms maker, fitted into this category. Perhaps equally important were those civilian leaders who contributed to the morale of each side. Thus, preachers and journalists have come in for critical reappraisal. Finally, women in key positions to counsel and to provide support for other leaders are regarded as important leaders. The most important leaders from each of these categories make up those included in this biographical dictionary.

Those who have been included in this dictionary have had their life stories studied in similar fashion. Their upbringing, family life, education, relation to their age cohort, and prewar experience are discussed as preparation for their participation in the war. Why those leaders would give so much of themselves to the war effort has been a question asked of their upbringing and training. Wartime activities, of course, take up the central place in these entries. The positions they held and the places of their action have been discussed in full. More important, the interaction of those leaders with other leaders has been described and analyzed. A few built upon their war activities to fashion important contributions to the postwar period. Ulysses S. Grant and Andrew Johnson are examples of this group. However, no matter how much these leaders influenced events during the entire war era, their wartime experiences and accomplishments are the central focus of this dictionary. How they fared during the postwar period, what they did to enhance their wartime reputations, and how their war experience continued to influence their lives are discussed in depth. Each entry is cross-referenced, indicating other biographical subjects who also appear as entries.

A secondary, but most important, part of this dictionary discusses how the leaders wanted to be remembered in history and how history has evaluated their accomplishments. The last part of each entry includes an evaluation of how historians have regarded these leaders. Thus, those leaders’ reputations have been analyzed historiographically. The leaders’ views of themselves, the support or criticism of postwar memoirists and biographers, and the verdict of early historians are included in the bibliographical section. In addition, the best modern historical studies of their lives have been used to assess their contributions to the war. A chronological bibliography, from the earliest works to the present, concludes each entry. To set this study into historical context, the introduction critiques how students of their lives, from witnesses to their accomplishments to modern historians, have regarded their reputations.

The purpose of this dictionary, then, has been to study the lives of many of the Civil War’s most important leaders by providing the reader with an up-todate analysis of their activities, the ways they achieved fame, and the reasons why their reputations are what they are today. The late Thomas Lawrence Connelly, a modern historian of the many types of Civil War leaders, profoundly influenced the organization and purpose of this volume. Connelly both evaluated

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