24 thoughts on “The Sunday Question: Biography

  1. Harry Smeltzer November 5, 2011 / 8:19 pm

    Irvin McDowell – if only to get folks to stop calling him “Irwin”.

    And I suspect there’s some fourth corporal who temporarily led three Confederate soldiers in battle – or to fetch water – who has not been the subject of a major bio. Though I may be wrong about that.

  2. Robert Welch November 5, 2011 / 8:26 pm

    Has anyone done a biography of McPherson?

  3. wgdavis November 5, 2011 / 8:57 pm

    Ulrich Dahlgren…and I know just the guy to do it…8>)

  4. Jim Bales November 5, 2011 / 10:06 pm

    How about:
    Herman Haupt
    Joshqia Gorgas

    Jim Bales

    • Stefan Papp jr. November 6, 2011 / 3:20 am

      Samuel Ryan Curtis

  5. Lynn Mercer November 6, 2011 / 5:09 am

    Robert H. Milroy

  6. Gene Schmiel November 6, 2011 / 6:36 am

    Yes, it’s shameless self-promotion, but I am working on a biography of Jacob D. Cox, one of the best “political generals” of the Union effort, an important politician after the war, and by far the best/most objective historian of the war from among the participants.

  7. Kevin November 6, 2011 / 6:55 am

    William Mahone

  8. James F. Epperson November 6, 2011 / 8:33 am

    A bio was recently done of MacPherson (by Waldsmith), but it was withdrawn due to plagerism-type concerns. It wasn’t very good, IMO, so I would think he would be a good choice.

  9. John Foskett November 6, 2011 / 9:15 am

    Joe Hooker – for the heck of it, if nothing else. It’s been a long time since Herbert’s book. Harry actually makes a good suggestion, however. If Sigel and Banks can get modern biois, the man of “monstrous fine” fame should as well. As for Robert’s question, a female biographer (name escapes me) did something on McPherson a couple of years ago, IIRC.

  10. Carl Schenker November 6, 2011 / 9:33 am

    John — I think Tamara A. Smith did a dissertation on McPherson, then an article in “Grant’s Lieutenant’s: From Cairo to Vicksburg.” I am under the impression that she is now working to bring forth a book. JBM does seem understudied relative to his importance and reputation — the only posthumous figure in “Grant and His Generals.” CRS
    P.S. I have the Waldsmith book mentioned by Jim Epperson — was not aware of the withdrawal Jim reports.

  11. TF Smith November 6, 2011 / 11:16 am

    I’d like to suggest something a little different – rather than a single biography, how about a parallel lives type work on the Eastern corps-level commanders in 1861-62 – from Patterson and McDowell in 1861 through to Sumner, Heintzelman, Keyes, Porter, and Franklin in 1862 through to Hooker, Meade, Burnside, Reno, Cox, Mansfield, Banks, Fremont, and Sigel…

    There has been a lot of work done on the commanders in the East at the level of GBM/Scott/Pope/Halleck; some attention to those charged with carrying their various strategies and concepts, at a time when the corps commander was a new role in the US Army, would be interesting and very useful.

    • Stephen Graham November 7, 2011 / 10:50 pm

      Isn’t that largely what Taafde’s Commanding the Army of the Potomac was?

  12. Kevin November 6, 2011 / 12:29 pm

    Governor John Andrew

  13. marcferguson November 6, 2011 / 6:27 pm

    Rich Cairn of the Hampshire Educational Collaborative in Northampton suggests Frederick Douglass, and I consider this an excellent suggestion!

    • Kevin November 8, 2011 / 8:20 am

      David Blight is working on a Douglass biography.

  14. Rob Wick November 7, 2011 / 8:34 am

    Edwin M. Stanton, Gideon Welles and Edward Bates.


  15. John Buchanan November 7, 2011 / 9:07 am

    George Washington Getty

    John T. Wilder (The Lightning Brigade)

    Adelbert Ames

  16. Andy Papen November 7, 2011 / 5:36 pm

    At one point, I think Bill Shea was working on a bio of Samuel Curtis; not sure if that’s true or not.

    I would second (or third) the need for a MacPherson biography. The Waldsmith one was inadequate.

    I would also suggest the need for a biography of A.J. Smith, and a new one for William Rosecrans.


  17. Nick November 7, 2011 / 8:37 pm

    I think Nathaniel Lyon could use a new biography. The only recent biography on him, written by Christopher Phillips in the mid 90s, was heavy on psychoanalysis and perhaps went a bit too far in attacking the actions of Lyon without putting events in their proper context.

    Although a figure not directly involved in the Civil War, as he had passed away shortly before the war began, I also think Missouri senator Thomas Hart Benton deserves a new biography; there hasn’t been one written on him since 1958, which is amazing considering his important role in Missouri antebellum politics, he desire for westward expansion, and his eventual desire to prohibit slavery’s extension, despite being a Democrat.

  18. Phil LeDuc November 9, 2011 / 10:56 am

    George Gordon Meade

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