Question of the Week: 9/6-9/12/21

Which Civil War leader who did NOT write his own memoirs do you find most interesting?

23 Responses to Question of the Week: 9/6-9/12/21

  1. Because he did not survive the war, Andrew Hull Foote was never availed the opportunity to publish his memoirs. A pity, because his insight into the clandestine resupply of Fort Pickens; his Johnny-on the spot availability at New York Navy Yard (at just the right time); his own thoughts in regard to Henry Halleck, Don Carlos Buell, John Fremont, John Pope and U.S. Grant; and his full revelations regarding Fort Columbus, Fort Henry, Fort Donelson, and the Island No.10 operations… would be most illuminating.

  2. Without a doubt fellow West Virginian General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson. His ability to command independently or within Lee’s command structure enabled many of the Confederacy’s military successes prior to his death at Chancellorsville in 1863. Jackson’s Valley Campaign of 1862 remains legendary. Although his widow would later publish his memoir, I believe Jackson’s eccentricity and almost shy personality would have prevented him from doing so should he have survived the war.

  3. Frances Barlow. We know little to nothing of his thoughts except a few letters to his wife. Same is true of George Meade, although we have alot more letters from Meade to his wife. So, I would say
    Barlow, then Meade.

  4. Pat Cleburne. An Irish immigrant who rose from private to major general. He served in a British regiment prior to emigrating. Near the end of the war, he proposed emancipating slaves, to secure their cooperation in fighting for the South. His division was always reliable and determined.
    Tom Crane

    1. Definitely. I’d like to hear his thoughts on facing Lee’s forces on July 1st at Gettysburg. Also, if he had survived the war, it would also be interesting to have another prominent voice discussing post-war reunification in his native border state of Kentucky.

      1. Mike, I agree! It would be nice to know what he and John Reynolds discussed when they met on July 1st. It determined the fate of a Nation.

  5. I’ll be forever annoyed that Braxton Bragg wrote nothing about the war, despite helping to found the Southern Historical Society Papers.

  6. Lincoln. What were his reconstruction plans and where did he draw the strength from to continue his efforts during the war. In my opinion, he and Washington were the two indispensable Americans.

  7. Just to throw out something different, I’ll go with John C. Breckinridge. To the best of my knowledge he didn’t publish a memoir. Would have been fascinating to get the perspective of such a high level federal official from before the war who joined the Confederacy. His views on the Buchanan admin, the Election of 1860, his service in both the East and West, and his time as the last CSA Sec. of War would have been an interesting read. Not to mention his escape, exile, and wanderings after the war.

  8. Phil Kearny, whose life before the Civil War was very interesting and who showed promise as a commander before being killed fairly early in the war at Chantilly.

    Thomas F. Meagher, for his fascinating story of going from Irish revolutionary to escaping from Australia to the Civil War in America.

    Patrick Cleburne, from whom I would have liked to hear his retrospective take on the squashing of his emancipation plan by his superiors.

    [Apparently, I find Irish people fascinating]

    Finally, Lincoln, because he’s Lincoln.

  9. I am not aware of actual “memoirs” by George Pickett, though a book of letters to his wife from the war years was pushed. Also, I don’t think DH Hill published any. If I am wrong about any of that, please direct me if you will. Thanks.

  10. From the Union, Philip Kearney because of his extensive and varied life experience at home and abroad. From the Confederacy, Jeb Stuart. I’m confident that he’d have published a memoir, especially to discuss his version of the great ride around the Union Army en route to Gettysburg that kept Lee out of touch with his invaluable “eyes and ears”. Stuart also might have mentioned something about his participation in the Harper’s Ferry raid prior to the war.

  11. Martin Witherspoon Gary, Brigadier General in the Department of Richmond during the Petersburg Campaign, then after January 1865 with the Army of Northern Virginia. Though not a major figure, he seems like a fireball. Some of my ancestors fought under him in the 7th SC Cavalry. Their letters give the sense that they scrambled to keep up with him – and occasionally wished he would give it a rest for a day or two.

  12. George Thomas . His wife had to defend him after his death, in essence, became his biographer before others wrote biographies.

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