Tag Archives: Rosecrans

Book Review- A new look at Grant

Frank P. Varney, General Grant and the Rewriting of History, California, Savas and Beatty, 2013

A critical examination of Grant’s memoirs and their effects on the historical record. 

 

Professor Frank Varney’s first book is a bold effort to right historical wrongs…. and the wrongs were perpetrated by none other than US Grant.   Varney proposes a three volume examination of the inconsistencies, mistakes, and outright lies found in Grant’s widely utilized memoirs.  Volume one takes Grant (and his historical defenders) to task for ruining the reputation of Major General William S. Rosecrans.  Varney carefully dissects both the historical record and the secondary sources which were deeply influenced by Grant’s account.

“The well of data about Rosecrans has been so tainted that many historians… are simply not motivated to look beyond the traditionally relied-upon sources- the writings of Grant prominent among them.”   Varney sums up how Grant’s memoirs have affected Civil War historiography.  Researchers simply assume Grant was right- they fail to verify with lesser known primary sources; what source could be more valuable than the man credited as the Union victor?  Varney’s research is extensive and provides key insights to the Grant/Rosecrans feud.  At the Battles of Iuka and Corinth, Grant was miles from the fighting- his battle reports change over time- and his memoir bears little resemblance to the Official Records.  Historians like Steven Woodworth and T. Harry Williams  have been complicit in propagating Grant’s distorted account and Varney cites key examples of his peers failing to carry-out the most basic research methodology.

Far from a redemptive piece about Rosecrans… Varney acknowledges the flaws in the man.  But, the evidence of tampering and distortion are too extensive to be ignored by the historical community.  Rosecrans had his flaws, but Grant’s accounts of the war have forever tarnished a General with widely accepted military skill.  Grant didn’t care for his subordinate and Varney skillfully shows how he took credit for victories, exaggerated his own actions, and distorted (even lied) about the performance of others.  Rosecrans was the victim of a concerted effort led by Grant- and historians have failed to give a balanced account of this chapter in Civil War history.  Hopefully, Professor Varney’s future volumes will be as detailed and insightful as this first edition.

The recent Grant renaissance should be reconsidered. 

 

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Political Opportunist in Uniform

James A. Garfield wanted to advance his political career… a brief stint commanding Ohio volunteers followed by an undistinguished term as a Congressman stalled the upstart’s career.

The Mentor

The Mentor

Concluding military service essential to future political ascension….  Garfield used favors of his mentor (and distant cousin) Salmon P. Chase to reenter military service, this time as a General.  The Lincoln administration needed an appropriate duty station for the young Ohioan’s “talents.”

Self-serving service

Self-serving service

Eccentric, brilliant, but irascible…  William S. Rosecrans was on Secretary of War Edwin Stanton’s last nerve.  Stubborn to a fault, Rosecrans refused to bow to the Administration’s unreasonable timetables.  The popular Rosecrans needed to go, but Stanton needed just cause.  The cagey Garfield seemed the perfect plant-  Rosecrans needed a new Chief-of-Staff- Stanton needed an ally close to the troublesome Commander.  The drama was set….

Unwitting victim

Unwitting victim

 

 

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Book Review- A new look at Grant

Frank P. Varney, General Grant and the Rewriting of History, California, Savas and Beatty, 2013

A critical examination of Grant’s memoirs and their effects on the historical record. 

 

Professor Frank Varney’s first book is a bold effort to right historical wrongs…. and the wrongs were perpetrated by none other than US Grant.   Varney proposes a three volume examination of the inconsistencies, mistakes, and outright lies found in Grant’s widely utilized memoirs.  Volume one takes Grant (and his historical defenders) to task for ruining the reputation of Major General William S. Rosecrans.  Varney carefully dissects both the historical record and the secondary sources which were deeply influenced by Grant’s account.

“The well of data about Rosecrans has been so tainted that many historians… are simply not motivated to look beyond the traditionally relied-upon sources- the writings of Grant prominent among them.”   Varney sums up how Grant’s memoirs have affected Civil War historiography.  Researchers simply assume Grant was right- they fail to verify with lesser known primary sources; what source could be more valuable than the man credited as the Union victor?  Varney’s research is extensive and provides key insights to the Grant/Rosecrans feud.  At the Battles of Iuka and Corinth, Grant was miles from the fighting- his battle reports change over time- and his memoir bears little resemblance to the Official Records.  Historians like Steven Woodworth and T. Harry Williams  have been complicit in propagating Grant’s distorted account and Varney cites key examples of his peers failing to carry-out the most basic research methodology.

Far from a redemptive piece about Rosecrans… Varney acknowledges the flaws in the man.  But, the evidence of tampering and distortion are too extensive to be ignored by the historical community.  Rosecrans had his flaws, but Grant’s accounts of the war have forever tarnished a General with widely accepted military skill.  Grant didn’t care for his subordinate and Varney skillfully shows how he took credit for victories, exaggerated his own actions, and distorted (even lied) about the performance of others.  Rosecrans was the victim of a concerted effort led by Grant- and historians have failed to give a balanced account of this chapter in Civil War history.  Hopefully, Professor Varney’s future volumes will be as detailed and insightful as this first edition.

The recent Grant renaissance should be reconsidered. 

 

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No Better Place to Die

Winter clash in Tennessee

Stones River is a forgotten battle of the Civil War… The battle raged along the banks of the Stones River near Murfreesboro, Tennessee from December 31, 1862-January 2, 1863.  Union Army of the Cumberland under William S. Rosecrans repulsed Confederate Army of Tennessee commanded by Braxton Bragg, over three days of bloody fighting.  The Union victory secured Kentucky and Middle Tennessee from Confederate invasion.

The fighting on December 31 was some of the worst of the war… Union lines were hard pressed all day by rolling waves of the Confederate onslaught.  Rosecrans rallied his troops in the thick of the fighting at several key locations.  The fiercest fighting took place on Hell’s Half Acre, defended by the brigade of William B. Hazen.  Hazen’s men were the only Union troops not to give ground that day.  Rosecrans held a council of war that evening and several of his generals proposed retreat.  Rosecrans was opposed, and so was his trusted subordinate, George H. Thomas.  Thomas responded that “There’s no better place to die.”  The fighting resumed on January 2, where Union forces bloodily repulsed another Confederate attack.  Thomas’ men sealed the victory with a successful counterattack.

Lincoln thanked Rosecrans for a “hard-earned victory.”

Stones River had the highest casualty rate of the Civil War… there were 76, 500 men engaged–Rosecrans’ army suffered 12,906 casualties, Bragg’s 11,739–32% of the combatants were casualties.  There were larger battles with more casualties in the Civil War, but none as concentrated as this bloody winter fighting in middle Tennessee.

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The man in the corner…

Colonel Anson Stager is not exactly a household name, even to many students of the Civil War. If your reading has taken you into the arcana of military codes, or if you are a fan of late 19th Century industrialization, you probably have heard of him: he was an instrumental figure in both arenas. He […]

http://emergingcivilwar.com/2016/04/16/the-man-in-the-corner/

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Political Opportunist in Uniform

James A. Garfield wanted to advance his political career… a brief stint commanding Ohio volunteers followed by an undistinguished term as a Congressman stalled the upstart’s career.

The Mentor

The Mentor

Concluding military service essential to future political ascension….  Garfield used favors of his mentor (and distant cousin) Salmon P. Chase to reenter military service, this time as a General.  The Lincoln administration needed an appropriate duty station for the young Ohioan’s “talents.”

Self-serving service

Self-serving service

Eccentric, brilliant, but irascible…  William S. Rosecrans was on Secretary of War Edwin Stanton’s last nerve.  Stubborn to a fault, Rosecrans refused to bow to the Administration’s unreasonable timetables.  The popular Rosecrans needed to go, but Stanton needed just cause.  The cagey Garfield seemed the perfect plant-  Rosecrans needed a new Chief-of-Staff- Stanton needed an ally close to the troublesome Commander.  The drama was set….

Unwitting victim

Unwitting victim

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

No Better Place to Die

Winter clash in Tennessee

Stones River is a forgotten battle of the Civil War… The battle raged along the banks of the Stones River near Murfreesboro, Tennessee from December 31, 1862-January 2, 1863.  Union Army of the Cumberland under William S. Rosecrans repulsed Confederate Army of Tennessee commanded by Braxton Bragg, over three days of bloody fighting.  The Union victory secured Kentucky and Middle Tennessee from Confederate invasion.

The fighting on December 31 was some of the worst of the war… Union lines were hard pressed all day by rolling waves of the Confederate onslaught.  Rosecrans rallied his troops in the thick of the fighting at several key locations.  The fiercest fighting took place on Hell’s Half Acre, defended by the brigade of William B. Hazen.  Hazen’s men were the only Union troops not to give ground that day.  Rosecrans held a council of war that evening and several of his generals proposed retreat.  Rosecrans was opposed, and so was his trusted subordinate, George H. Thomas.  Thomas responded that “There’s no better place to die.”  The fighting resumed on January 2, where Union forces bloodily repulsed another Confederate attack.  Thomas’ men sealed the victory with a successful counterattack.

Lincoln thanked Rosecrans for a “hard-earned victory.”

Stones River had the highest casualty rate of the Civil War… there were 76, 500 men engaged–Rosecrans’ army suffered 12,906 casualties, Bragg’s 11,739–32% of the combatants were casualties.  There were larger battles with more casualties in the Civil War, but none as concentrated as this bloody winter fighting in middle Tennessee.

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