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Halleck

Lincoln's Chief of Staff

248 pages / 5.50 x 8.50 inches / no illustrations

Civil War

  Paperback / 9780807120712 / April 1996

“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 constitute 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 writer’s failure to do justice to his close involvement with three movements basic to the development of the American military establishment: the Union high command’s application—and ultimate rejection—of the principles of Baron Henri Jomini; the growth of a national, professional army at the expense of the state militia; and the beginnings of a modern command system. 

Stephen E. Ambrose (1936-2002), was Boyd Professor of History at the University of New Orleans and author of many biographies and histories, including D-day, June 6, 1944: The Climactic Battle of World War II and Upton and the Army.

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