Since yesterday’s post has been so well received, and because reader Don Hallstrom asked for it, here’s a list of biographies that are needed. Again, these are in no particular order, and I hope that you will all pitch in as you did yesterday.

1. David M. Gregg
2. A fair and balanced bio of Judson Kilpatrick (the existing one certainly is not either fair or balanced)
3. Thomas T. Munford
4. David F. Day
5. George G. Meade
6. Thomas L. Rosser
7. Richard Taylor
8. D. H. Hill (in fairness, my friend Chris Hartley told me last week that he’s researching one)
9. Abner Doubleday (a thoroughly dislikable guy, but scoundrels can be fun)
10. William Mahone
11. Richard H. Anderson
12. John Bell Hood (again, a fair and balanced treatment is needed)
13. Jubal A. Early (Whatever happened to Gary Gallagher’s Early bio project?)
14. Fitz-John Porter
15. John Gibbon
16. Alfred Pleasonton

Those are the ones that come to my mind. Have at it. Perhaps we will inspire someone to take on one of these projects.

Scridb filter

Comments

  1. Wed 06th May 2009 at 9:36 am

    My quick thoughts: O.O. Howard; William J. Hardee; James B. McPherson.

    //RSB

  2. Wed 06th May 2009 at 9:40 am

    While I’m sure we can debate the word “need”, I’d like to see something on Charles Griffin and Adelbert Ames.

  3. Wed 06th May 2009 at 9:41 am

    Eric,

    That is a great list.

    To those you can add some other important AoP folks:

    1. Andrew Humphreys
    2. Irwin McDowell
    3. George Crook
    4. Joseph Hooker (the only one dates to 1940)
    5. Horatio Wright (but I hope to do that some day if I can find enough info to add substantially to my published essay)

    Below that rank are several division commanders who deserve at least biographical essays:

    1. John Newton
    2. Albion Howe
    3. Francis Barlow
    4. George Getty
    5. Charles Griffin
    6. George Sykes
    7. Daniel Butterfield
    8. James Ricketts
    9. Frank Wheaton
    10. Gershom Mott
    11. David Birney
    12. William French
    13. John Parke

    I think we are still waiting for a good biography of Daniel Sickles. You are certainly right about Meade; I read somewhere that Ethan Rafuse is on that one.

    As for Gary Gallagher and the Early biography, Gary, after a long hiatus, has recently renewed the effort on that one.

    Bill

  4. Wed 06th May 2009 at 9:46 am

    Russ,

    Howard has had two recent bios that I’m aware of. Have you seen them?

    Eric

  5. dan
    Wed 06th May 2009 at 9:50 am

    Any author who does a biography of Judson Kilpatrick should upcharge 25% on the book – for combat duty. Can there be more of a scuzbag in the entire Union army than Kilcavalry? Yech. I think a good take on him could be done just like the one for Custer, Son of the Morning Star, which was quite good. I think that the author didn’t quite like his subject, but he kept his distance most of the time. A well-done book. Kilpatrick is such a jerk I don’t know how he could get fair treatment even at this late date. But, if history can be fair to Stanton then certainly Kilpatrick can get his due as well. Excellent stuff, Eric. Thanks.
    Dan

  6. Charlie Knight
    Wed 06th May 2009 at 10:14 am

    Could not agree more on Hooker and Mahone – both are desperately in need of current bios.

    If you want to delve into the realm of obscure folks, how about William Gilham or Francis Smith. Although Keith Gibson @ VMI told me several months ago that someone was working on a bio of Gilham, don’t recall who it was though.

  7. Wed 06th May 2009 at 10:15 am

    Eric:

    How recent is recent on Howard? I know of two in the mid-90’s (Wm S. McFeely and Gerald Weland), and then the 1964 Sword and Olive Branch, which was reprinted around 2000. I’d like to see one of our big Union scholars reevaluate Old Prayer Book. Let me know if I’ve missed one.

    Great blog topics from you as always. –Russ

  8. Wed 06th May 2009 at 10:17 am

    Russ,

    The two in the mid-90’s are the ones I was referring to.

    Eric

  9. Wed 06th May 2009 at 10:22 am

    Bill,

    Barlow has a very recent scholarly bio that was published by Kent State University Press: http://www.amazon.com/Boy-General-Careers-Francis-Channing/dp/0873388356/ref=sr_1_8?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1241619562&sr=8-8

    Eric

  10. Ken Noe
    Wed 06th May 2009 at 10:54 am

    I actually planned on doing a D. H. Hill biography until I heard last year that not one but two already were coming out. Both Crook and Mahone would be fascinating and useful as well. To do them all right, though, I think they’d have to extend far beyond 1865. Mahone additionally would require dealing with Little Billy’s bizarre script, which Kevin Levin once accurately compared to an EKG. I don’t have enough years to translate any more of that.

    Mike Parrish’s biography of Dick Taylor already is first rate, I think.

  11. Wed 06th May 2009 at 10:58 am

    Gettysburg LBG Jim Hessler’s bio of Sickles is coming shortly – I’ve read and reviewed it and it’s fabulous and balanced. I believe it will be the standard Ol’ Dan bio.

    When I get other projects out of the way, I definitely plan to take on Pleasonton. Not nearly as much of a scuzbag as Kilpatrick, but Alf has his own brand of very interesting scuzziness 🙂

    J.D.

  12. Wed 06th May 2009 at 11:17 am

    Since I am a T-M guy, I would like to see a biography of Samuel Curtis, who won at Pea Ridge and Westport, and one of John S. Marmaduke, who lost much more than he won.

  13. JE
    Wed 06th May 2009 at 12:19 pm

    In no particular order..

    W.W. Averell
    B.F. Kelley
    Aug Willich

  14. Andy Papen
    Wed 06th May 2009 at 1:13 pm

    Francis Cockrell could use a bio. Rosecrans could probably use a modern treatment. I, for one, would read a bio of Thomas Wood; I may be the only one……

  15. Andy Papen
    Wed 06th May 2009 at 1:18 pm

    One more. A.J. Smith. His service in 1864 is fascinating, I think.

    A bio of C.F. Smith would be interesting, but he died so early on that the CW stuff would be limited.

    Ok, that was two more….

  16. Wed 06th May 2009 at 1:40 pm

    How about Henry Hunt and Alexander Hays?

  17. Wed 06th May 2009 at 1:45 pm

    Jared,

    Ed Longacre’s Hunt bio is probably his best work. It’s actually rather good.

    Eric

  18. Wed 06th May 2009 at 1:46 pm

    Jon-Erik,

    An Averell bio would be most welcome. It would actually be a manageable project, because his papers are all at the New York state archives in Albany.

    Averell had an interesting life after the war. He became hugely wealthy late in life as one of the owners of the patent for asphalt.

    Eric

  19. Michael Lynch
    Wed 06th May 2009 at 2:17 pm

    I’ve long intended to read Sword and Olive Branch, but haven’t gotten around to it. Howard actually founded my alma mater. I’ve always wondered if he was just unlucky on the battlefield or if his was a case of the Peter Principle in action.

    –ML

  20. Wed 06th May 2009 at 2:22 pm

    Well, there has been some thought on my end of a Hood bio, but we’ll see. McMurry’s bio dates to 1982 and is still solid so I’m not sure it could be topped. That said, I have thought about analyzing Hood in an early war vs. late war way which I think is critical to understanding who Hood really was. I think it puts in much better context his failures which are often solely by which Hood is judged.

  21. Wed 06th May 2009 at 3:02 pm

    The list is certainly very heavily tilted toward Eastern subjects. Wonder why . . .

    Harry makes a good point about the use of the word “need”–though I think Bill follows that up nicely by advocating no more than essays for some of these folks. Indeed, with many, many Civil War subjects a real good essay would be a far greater contribution to scholarship than a full-length book. Nonetheless, full-length Sedgwick, Cox, Gibbon, Reynolds, and Birney studies might be of value and, while Jordan’s books are good, I think there is still more of value that can be said about Hancock and Warren.

    Looking out west, Tom Crittenden, Alex McCook, and Gordon Granger have no modern bios that I am aware of and they are certainly of greater importance than Rosser or Munford. And I share Ken’s opinion of Michael Parrish’s bio of Richard Taylor. Parrish has been working on Beauregard–talk about someone a bio is needed on–for some time also.

    I consider myself done with Meade, Bill, but Chris Stowe has a contract for a study of the snapping turtle with Kent State that he is making progress on with all the deliberate speed that characterized his subject. A Dan Sutherland student, Terry Beckenbaugh, has his eyes set on eventually doing a Sam Curtis bio. I am doing a short project on Hooker that may turn into something more. Brian Burton is currently researched a Fitz John Porter study, while Jeff Prushankin is putting the finishing touches on a Kirby Smith bio, Bill Feis is working on Grenville Dodge, and Thomas Rowland has been working on Irvin McDowell for some time.

  22. Sam Elliott
    Wed 06th May 2009 at 3:22 pm

    The last work on Simon Bolivar Buckner was in the 1940’s. Some of the later war division commanders in the AOT, such as Henry D. Clayton, Edward C. Walthall, John C. Brown and William B. Bate, although sources might be scarce. On the Federal side, I’ve always thought a look at the few months Joe Hooker led troops in the West would be fascinating.

  23. Chris Evans
    Wed 06th May 2009 at 3:26 pm

    Braxton Bragg needs a complete one where the biographer doesn’t quit in the middle of writing it.
    Chris

  24. Chris Evans
    Wed 06th May 2009 at 3:30 pm

    Gallagher it seems has been working on that Jubal Early book for over twenty years. I wish he would finish it already. It reminds me of another historian Paul Andrew Hutton who wrote ‘Phil Sheridan and His Army’. He was working on a bio of Davy Crockett that never came out and it has been twenty years also. Speaking of Sheridan I should have added him to the list of someone who needs a complete biography that in detail covers him in the Western Theater, Eastern Theater, and the Indian Wars.
    Thanks,
    Chris

  25. Chris Evans
    Wed 06th May 2009 at 3:51 pm

    I agree that also that more work could be done on John Bell Hood. McMurray is good but is much more tilted toward the Western Theater. Hood in the Eastern Theater could be looked at in much more detail and the crucial roles he played at Second Manassas, Antietam , and his early wounding at Gettysburg. Then his role at Chickamauga should be examined closely because it is fascinating and crucial. Then you have the Atlanta campaign and the Tennessee campaign that are truly epic and can be examined in much more detail than McMurray’s book. The writer could look at the various situations from Hood’s point of view and examine in detail his decision making in these hellacious battles.
    Thanks,
    Chris

  26. dan
    Wed 06th May 2009 at 4:21 pm

    Chris,
    >the biographer doesn’t quit in the middle

    Having read both volumes of the biography you reference I do not blame McWhinney for bailing on the project. Bragg is insufferable, and for CS fans unbearable. Davis’ support of Bragg is beyond comprehension and may have been Davis’ greatest error (obvious hook).

    If the same author who writes a new Kilpatrick biography also writes a Bragg treatment such a person is certainly a brave but masochistic historian.
    8^>

  27. Chris Evans
    Wed 06th May 2009 at 4:27 pm

    But the thing I don’t understand about not writing a Bragg biography is that there are 1000 page books on Hitler and Stalin. They were much more evil, terrible and destructive than Bragg was. Bragg can be looked at in more detail than he has in the past
    Thanks for the reply,
    Chris

  28. dan
    Wed 06th May 2009 at 4:30 pm

    Chris,
    Excellent point. I was being a bit facetious in my original comments on this. Bailing on this project was probably due to other reasons for McWhiney, not just his personal dislike of Bragg. However, he was almost grudgingly complimentary to Bragg at times in other venues. Thanks for the comment.
    Dan

  29. Rob Wick
    Wed 06th May 2009 at 6:05 pm

    How about some on the non-military side?

    Both Edwin Stanton and William Seward need new bios. Stanton, especially, since Benjamin Thomas’s bio was published in the late 1950s.

    Best
    Rob

  30. JE
    Wed 06th May 2009 at 8:26 pm

    Rob – Agreed! Edwin Stanton deserves a new bio, with all conspiracy theories and Otto Eisenschiml-isms left out. This weekend I’ll actually be investigating the feasability of buying the ‘Stanton Inn’ built by Borden Stanton, grandfather of Edwin McMasters. Built approx 1810-1815, it’s in rough shape but might make for an interesting restoration project for the weekends. I digress…

  31. Sarah
    Wed 06th May 2009 at 8:29 pm

    Hm… you know I have been wanting something to do lately. Do you think taking on a biography would be way over my head, or shall I begin some research and perhaps give something like this a shot?

  32. Steve Ward
    Wed 06th May 2009 at 9:45 pm

    Jacob D. Cox deserves a good biography. His war-time experience and post war career as a writer, critic, scientist and member of Grant’s cabinet provides a would be biographer with much to ponder and write about. His war-time experience, especially the Antietam campaign, the Atlanta campaign and his actions at Franklin are ripe for exploration. Steve.

  33. Wed 06th May 2009 at 10:26 pm

    I believe Gallagher dropped the Early bio years ago.

    William Jackson Palmer is a forgotten Union cavalryman I would love to see a bio on.

  34. Wed 06th May 2009 at 10:31 pm

    Sarah,

    Sure, why not?

    Eric

  35. Wed 06th May 2009 at 10:42 pm

    Mr. Jacobson,

    I attended one of your tours of Carnton about a year ago and bought “For Cause & For Country” while I was there. You should definitely do a Hood bio!

    Jared

  36. Art Bergeron
    Thu 07th May 2009 at 8:05 am

    Are you not a fan of Parrish’s biography of Dick Taylor?

  37. Don Hallstrom
    Thu 07th May 2009 at 8:53 am

    Looking at the posts it seems a lot of biographies are yet to be written. Most of my interest is on the Confederate side. However, one union general that I think might be interesting would be Alexander Webb.

    I agree with Sam Elliott the AoT has some worthy candidates. Some others he didn’t mention could include Daniel Govan, James Chalmers and William Hicks Jackson, Mark P. Lowrey, James P. Anderson. Most of these generals had very good records in an army that was plauged with faulty leadership.

    In the ANV, I think there are a number of worthy subjects. William Mahone, L. McClaws and Joseph Kershaw, Evander Law, Gilbert M. Sorrell, Henry Benning, William R. Cox, Clement Evans, Eppa Hunton, William R. Terry, Edward Thomas and Samuel McGowan

    Thanks Eric for the recent posts, created a lot of interest.

    Don

  38. Chris Evans
    Thu 07th May 2009 at 10:41 am

    I think ,if he hasn’t been mentioned yet, Lew Wallace would be a good subject for a full blown biography also. His role at Shiloh that causes controversy to this day could be looked at in detail and also his definsive stand at Monocacy that he is famous for. Plus, in his post war years could be discussed him writing ‘Ben Hur’ and being territorial governor of New Mexico when Billy the Kid was roaming around. That would be a pretty full and interesting life for a modern biographer.
    Thanks,
    Chris

  39. Thu 07th May 2009 at 11:23 am

    Jared Frederick, agree with you on Alexander Hays, the last book was, “Life and Letters of Alexander Hays, Pittsburgh, 1919.

  40. Scott Smart
    Thu 07th May 2009 at 4:53 pm

    The number one guy I want to know about, and all I’ve really seen has been the OR, is Gordon Granger. Though I also find Canby potentially interesting.

  41. Thu 07th May 2009 at 6:07 pm

    Eric,

    I think Gregg would be really interesting, though I’m not sure how one could do a book and not come to a definite conclusion on why he resigned in 1864.

    Pleasonton. Eww. Interesting. Distasteful, but interesting….

  42. Thu 07th May 2009 at 6:38 pm

    Art,

    Wayne Mahood (I think) put out a full bio of Hays within the last 2 or 3 years, “Fighting Aleck” I think it was called. Life and Letters was published by the family with U of Pitt press – the family still holds most of Hays’ papers privately.

    I’m all for a bio of IrVin McDowell if only to get people to call him by the right name!

    I think Ames is a good subject because of his role in reconstruction and his business interests after the war. Did you know that his family owned the bank raided by the James-Younger gang in Northfield MN. Think Long Riders and The Great Northfield Minnesota Raid (I prefer the latter, with Cliff Robertson and Bobby Duval). Apparrently Ames was in town when the deal went down. He also frequently played golf with John D. Rockefeller, IIRC.

  43. Chris Evans
    Thu 07th May 2009 at 7:16 pm

    Ames really is an interesting character. His grandson was the famous author George Plimpton. And Ames was reconstruction governor of Mississippi and lived until 1933. And he was married to Benjamin Butler’s daughter! And the boat he owned for pleasure crusing won the first America’s Cup. What a fascinating life!
    Chris

  44. Ken Noe
    Thu 07th May 2009 at 7:23 pm

    It’s not a full biography, but Ames figures as perhaps the central character in Stephen Budiansky’s The Bloody Shirt.

  45. Thu 07th May 2009 at 7:35 pm

    Ken,

    Yes he does. He also has a big role in Lemann’s “Redemption”. I think of the two Lemann’s was the more balanced take on Ames.

    Also interesting is Ames married the daughter of Ben Butler. Blanche was, believe it or not, the reigning beauty in Washington in the wake of Kate Chae’s departure for Rhode Island. So George Plimpton was descended directly from not one but two prominent Union generals.

  46. Thu 07th May 2009 at 9:41 pm

    Sorry, trampled all over Chris’s post…didn’t see it.

  47. Chris Evans
    Thu 07th May 2009 at 9:55 pm

    No problem Harry, I just wish more people knew what an interesting character Ames was. It really is something that he did all of the above plus won the Medal of Honor for his actions at First Bull Run and then built the 20th Maine into the regiment that Chamberlain would lead to immortality at Little Round Top. I always liked the line Ames said when he first saw the men that would become the 20th Maine: “This is a Hell of a Regiment”.
    Thanks,
    Chris

  48. Thu 07th May 2009 at 11:40 pm

    George Brinton McClellan.

    If my schedule allows, I will expand on this over at Civil Warriors in the near future.

  49. Stefan
    Fri 08th May 2009 at 2:46 am

    What about ethnic commanders like Peter J. Osterhaus & August Willich? Where are their bios?

    Stefan

  50. Dave Powell
    Fri 08th May 2009 at 7:01 am

    Willich’s communist connections mean that he is a very prominent figure in Germany, and in that aspect of social history. Interestingly that info has not really seeped over to the ACW side – perhaps folks would be too horrified if they found out how radical Willich really was.

    He would be a great subject for a book, but with so many references in German, the author would need to speak and read it well.

    Willich scorned Marx, BTW. Once challenged him to a duel. Marx retaliated by spreading false rumors that Willich was really a spy for the police. Willich did duel with one of Marx’s hothead supporters, wounding him (Willich, among other things, was reputed to be a crack shot) and that settled the dueling.

    War, revolution intrigue, cross-country escapes, exile – everything’s in there.

    It is good to see some western names popping up here.

    Dave Powell

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