Ohio History Journal

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Book Reviews

Book Reviews






The Papers of Ulysses S. Grant, Volume V:

April 1-August 31, 1862. Edited by JOHN Y.

SIMON. (Carbondale: Southern Illinois Press,

1973). xxv + 458 p.; introduction, chronol-

ogy, maps, illustrations, calendar, index.



Like its predecessors, Volume V of the

Grant Papers is skillfully edited and artfully

produced by John Y. Simon and his editorial

team. The "packaging" is increasingly es-

sential since Grant's correspondence is thin

and given to silences on issues which in-

trigued his contemporaries and historians.

In an army in which generals said too

much (who has the courage to edit the

McClellan Papers?), Grant said little, offi-

cially or privately. Perhaps that is why he

survived. In any event, this volume covers

some of the most distressing days in Grant's

Civil War career--and he met adversity

with characteristic restraint.

Grant's problems started with the heroic

miscalculation that his Army of the Ten-

nessee would not be attacked by the full

force of Albert Sidney Johnston's army.

Grant and Sherman were too good as offi-

cers not to recognize the Confederate pres-

ence around their Pittsburgh Landing posi-

tion; the skirmishing started two days before

the Confederate attack of April 6. But

Grant was surprised by the weight and tim-

ing of the Shiloh attack-and from a force

he estimated at twice its actual size. Noth-

ing in his papers clears him of a considerable

error in judgment.

The eventual defeat of Johnston's army by

the evening of April 7 was only the end of

one crisis. After Shiloh Grant faced a new

set of opponents, only one of whom was the

Confederate Army at Corinth, Mississippi.

The rebels were the least of Grant's prob-

lems since his army and Buell's Army of the

Ohio, commanded jointly by Henry Wager

Halleck, outnumbered the Confederates and

ground ahead to take Corinth in early June.

In the meantime, Grant's reputation

plunged, diminished by the complaints of

cashiered officers, rearward politicians, and

journalists whose grasp of Shiloh was more

fanciful than tactical. Some of the critics

were right, but for the wrong reasons.

Grant's own response to the charges of

drunkenness, absence, and negligence are

sparse; he explained the battle unofficially

only to his wife, father, and one Illinois con-

gressman. Only Simon's notes outline the

controversy because Grant ignored the

charges until he suspected Halleck was eas-

ing him out of his command. Halleck reas-

sured Grant that his position was secure.

As Grant wrote his wife, "my record in

this war will bear scrutiny without writing

anything in reply to the many attacks

made," and he hoped his father and aides

would quit publishing counterattacks in his


After the capture of Corinth, Grant's at-

tention turned to pacifying the western half

of Tennessee and northern Mississippi, evac-

uated by the rebels. It was no easy task,

complicated by guerrilla raids, illicit trade,

runaway slaves, and rapacious northern

merchants pursuing the profits of war. Al-

though Grant's staff was now more efficient

in handling routine army administration, it

could not cope with the byzantine politics of

military occupation, and Grant's letters

show that in July and August 1862, some of

his hardest fights were not on the battlefield.

Grapplying with the complex problems of

consolidating the early summer advances,

Grant felt the sting of Shiloh less and the

satisfactions of command more.




Ohio State University




Henry Ward Beecher: The Indiana Years,

1837-1847. By JANE SHAFFER ELSMERE. (In-

dianapolis: Indiana Historical Society, 1973.

xiii + 317p.; illustrations, bibliographical

note, and index. $7.50.)


Jane Elsmere, finding the treatment of

Henry Ward Beecher's formative years "un-