Chatham Roberdeau Wheat has rightly been called the grandest of Civil War heroes. Born a Virginia gentleman, this handsome giant was by turns lawyer, politician, filibusterer, wit, bon vivant, and soldier of fortune. Perhaps the most experienced soldier on either side at the outbreak of the Civil War, Wheat led the “Louisiana Tigers”—notorious as the wildest battalion in either army—in some of the war’s bloodiest battles, including Bull Run, the Valley, and the Seven Days. Idolized by his men for his courage and camaraderie, he was adored by women for his dash and gallantry.
In this comprehensive biography, originally published in 1957, Charles L. Dufour details Wheat’s life and loves—from his turbulent school days to his early and heroic end at Gaines Mill. Based largely on letters and unpublished family documents, Dufour’s work—the first in-depth study of Wheat—stands as the most vivid portrait of this fantastic young soldier.
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