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When Generals in Gray was published in 1959, scholars and critics immediately hailed it as one of the few indispensable books on the Civil War. Stanley F. Horn, for example, wrote, "It is difficult for a reviewer to restrain his enthusiasm in recommending a monumental book of this high quality and value."
In the present volume Ezra J. Warner does for the Union generals what he did for the Confederate commanders in Generals in Gray. In writing biographical sketches of the 583 men who attained the rank of general he has brought together a vast amount of material available nowhere else. As impressive as his research is, it is no more impressive than the fact that he was able to bring together photographs, many of them from private sources, of all 583 generals.
Who were the Union generals? Many were political appointees. Less than half were West Point graduates. One out of three had had no previous military experience. But out of this army came Grant and Sherman and Sheridan—and three destined for later fame as Presidents.
The Union generals outnumbered their Confederate counterparts 583 to 425. In addition, there were another 1,367 who never held full rank. Mr. Warner gives a complete alphabetical list of these in one of his appendixes
An indispensable reference work, Generals in Blue is also a book which can be enjoyed by the general reader. Mr. Warner gas given the pertinent information on the Gederal commanders. At the same time, he has kept his eye out for the obscure detail, the fascinating bit of color that distinguishes a readable work such as this from the stock encyclopedia.
Here are the young men (for the Civil War was a young man's war) like George Custer, who became a general at twenty-three and a legend at thirty-six, in the battle of Little Big Horn. And the veterans, like Winfield Scott, who was seventy-four when the Civil War began.
Here also are the generals lost in obscurity: the other Scott (Robert K.), whom Mr. Warner calls "as unique a mixture of hero and rogue as ever wore a United States uniform"; the controversial Daniel Sickles, who had shot his wife's paramour in the shadow of the White House; John Basil Turchin, the "Russian Thunderbolt," who was court-martialed for, among other things, allowing his wife to accompany him in the field; and Thomas Alfred Smyth, another of the foreign-born generals, an Irishman, who died of his wounds on the day that Lee surrendere dat Appomattox.
Generals in Blue is more than the companion volume to Generals in Gray. It is a first-rate work of scholarship that will be read and referred to again and again.
A native of Lake Forest, Illinois, Ezra J. Warner (1910–1974) lived in La Jolla, California, and was well known for his work in Civil War biography.
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