I began this series almost a year ago–what a difference a year makes! My Master’s program at American Public University is marching forward, slowly but surely, and the rest of my life is–as Chris M. says–groovy. Still, I like to finish what I start, so here is Book # 8, or I guess I should say books #8–Ezra J. Warner’s Generals In Blue and Generals In Gray. No one who writes about the American Civil War can truly function without these volumes close at hand. And I mean no one. Just check any secondary source sitting on the bookshelf. Chances are the author has used one of these books at some point.
Personally, I think it is because all Civil War generals have the same name. No, really, I mean it. I chronically mix up the Johnstons, and I know better. Half of these men are Mac something, half are Lees, and the third half are Stuarts, or Stewarts, or some derivation thereof. You lie if you claim never to have mixed up some one, somewhere. McClernand? McClellan? McDowell? Come on–we have all done it.
And because we have all done it, we know how important it is NOT to repeat our mistakes, especially in a class, a talk, or a conversation wherein you are trying to make a good impression. Owning these books is the first step toward rehabilitation.
Author Ezra J. Warner lists his generals alphabetically, and includes an image wherever possible. He then lists birthplace and birthdate, some brief information concerning the general’s pre-Civil War life, followed by a listing of battles at which the general was present, dates of promotions, woundings (if applicable), and death. Those officers who survived the Civil War get a synopsis of their post-war careers as well. There is usually a brief analysis of the competency or lack thereof of the general, a mention of his relationships with other officers and his commander-in-chief. His death–date and cause–and burial location are listed, as well as anything of note about the burial, such as reinterment at a different location.
Warner’s work is simple, direct, and complete, which is exactly what makes owning these books so necessary to the Civil War historian, buff or professional. Amazon lists them as low as $4.00 for a used copy of Generals In Blue in good condition, but Generals In Gray is a bit higher, at just under $9.50 for hardcover copies in good to very good condition. For those who are looking for holiday gifts, there is a nicely-boxed new set for just over $50.00.
Remember, it is never too late to stop looking ignorant–or for getting your Generals Johnston confused . . . again.