Lincoln's Bold Lion

The Life and Times of Brigadier General Martin Davis Hardin

James Huffstodt

The story of General Martin Hardin provides more than a combat record—in fact comprises a walking tour through 1800s America, with its most costly war only a centerpiece. From his childhood in Illinois, to his attendance at West Point, to his service on the frontier, Hardin's life reveals the progress of a century. In these pages we also learn the
Date Published :
October 2015
Publisher :
Illustration :
16pp photos
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Hardback
ISBN : 9781612003399
Pages : 448
Dimensions : 9 X 6 inches
Stock Status : In stock
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Runner-Up in the 2017 Florida Book Festival History Category

This is the first biography devoted to the life of a remarkable young man who, in the words of Civil War historian Ezra Warner, “embarked upon a combat career which has few parallels in the annals of the army for gallantry, wounds sustained, and the obscurity into which he had lapsed a generation before his death.”

But the story of General Martin Hardin provides more than a combat record—in fact comprises a walking tour through 1800s America, with its most costly war only a centerpiece. From his childhood in Illinois, where a slave girl implanted in him a fear of ghosts, to his attendance at West Point, along with other future luminaries, to his service on the frontier (where he took particular note of the bearing of the Cheyenne), Hardin’s life reveals the progress of a century.

Abraham Lincoln was a close friend and political ally of Martin’s father, who died a hero in the Mexican War. The family were also relatives of Mary Todd. Made Brigadier General at age 27, Hardin fought with distinction at Malvern Hill, Second Manassas, Gettysburg, Grant’s Overland Campaign, and the July 1864 Rebel raid on Washington. He was wounded four times, nearly died on two occasions, and lost an arm during the war. On one occasion he was ambushed on a road by Mosby’s men, one of whom may have been Lincoln conspirator Lewis Paine. Hardin himself took part in the hunt for John Wilkes Booth after Lincoln’s assassination.

In these pages we also learn the prominent role of General Hardin’s mother, who acted as her son’s lobbyist in the heady social world of wartime Washington. Over four years, she skillfully played upon her friendship with the President and the First Lady to advance her son‘s career. Although, as we see in these pages, his gallantry and leadership in combat sufficed enough to earn him renown, and in this book the under-sung exploits of a true 19th-century hero are finally revealed.

Nominated for the Gilder Lehrman Prize


Introduction: An Epic Life
Prologue: Lincoln Remembered, 1909

1. Little Boy Afraid of Ghosts
2. The Lincoln Connection
3. Homecoming for a Dead Hero
4. Saratoga Springs: Enter Saint and Sinner
5. Shadows in the Forest
6. West Point: No Place for Weaklings
7. Adventures Far West
8. Interlude in the American Eden
9. Armageddon Beckons
10. Traitor in Their Midst
11. The Heavens Rain Fire and Iron
12. Second Bull Run: “The Sun Never Set on a Braver Man”
13. Slaughtered for Not
14. White, Hot, Dusty Road to Gettysburg
15. The Round Tops: Every Man a Coward in the Dark
16. Attack, Retreat, Endure
17. Bushwhacked: Little Hope of Recovery
18. Even Brave Men Run: Hard Fighting with Grant’s Army in 1864
19. Desperate Hours: Rebel Raiders Menace Washington
20. General Hardin Makes a Brave Show
21. Garrison Soldier in Wartime Washington
22. Good Friday at Ford’s Theater
23. Commanding Former Enemies in Raleigh
24. The Gilded Age Dawns, Tad Lincoln Dies, Chicago Burns
25. Madness, Murder and Scandal, 1873
26. General Hardin—Gilded Age Prince
27. Battles Fought with Pen, Ink and Paper
28. Ghost Hunting in Old Mexico
29. Lay Down Your Sword and Shield

Epilogue: In the Days that Followed



"A fascinating account of a truly remarkable young man; students of Civil War period history will find this particularly interesting, and the writing draws you into this young man's life with ease."

- Books Monthly, February 2016

Anyone who is interested in the Civil War will surely want to read Lincoln's Bold Lion, but locals will also enjoy the riveting tale that connected a decorated Civil War general to Henry Flagler's elite Southern tourist haven."

- St Augustine Register

"Author James T. Huffstodt has brought Hardin back from the lengthy ranks of the overlooked and ignored Civil War generals. His fascinating new book, Lincoln's Bold Lion: The Life and Times of Brigadier General Martin Davis Hardin, breaks new ground into the life of the boyish brigadier and examines his relationship with the 16th president of the United States. Huffstodt, an Illinois native is an award-winning writer who currently lives in Tallahassee, Florida. He brings his ample research and writing skills to the forefront in this well-written, fast-paced biography...Huffstodt has brought General Hardin's memory back to life for the modern reader in this entertaining and comprehensive biography. It is an interesting narrative, replete with human interest stories and vignettes from Hardin's life, as well as from his father's and other family members. This is an excellent addition to the bookshelf of anyone interested in Union generals, as well as to those interested in reading about one of Lincoln's friendships that is not often discussed."

- York Daily Record

"…Huffstodt must be applauded for restoring Hardin to his rightful place as a heroic patriot … A highly recommended read."

- History of War

“LINCOLN’S BOLD LION sticks to facts, but also tells an astounding story of an Illinois native whose life intersects with those of Abraham Lincoln, Gens. Robert E. Lee, Ulysses S. Grant, John Wilkes Booth, and local legends such as Gen. Philip Sheridan. . . . Bringing to light the life of Hardin restores the man’s rightful position as an American hero .

- Chicago Daily Herald

" excellent job portraying General Hardin's life in the context of a changing America. Readers get to know him intimately and and also how his world was changing...valuable contribution, this book makes as a definitive biography of a forgotten hero. It is highly recommended."

- Civil War News

"...recounts the story of both an amazing American and a pivotal period of history...The author’s diligent, deep research and his knack for storytelling vividly describes Hardin’s lifetime in its historical context....Despite all his experiences and accomplishments, when Hardin died at age 86 in St. Augustine, Fla., he was apparently largely forgotten. Still it seems remarkable that this riveting new book ranks as the first biography of this relatively unsung hero and exceptional American."

- Toy Solder & Model Figure

... brings to light the untold story of a future Civil War general who grew up in Saratoga Springs, went to West Point and became a close friend ofPresident Abraham Lincoln. General Martin Hardin served at Gettysburg-- a colonel at the time-- and later helped lead the search for Lincoln's assassin, John Wilkes Booth. Author James T. Huffstodt provides fascinating insights about this overlooked Union hero in his book, Lincoln's Bold Lion."

- Saratogian

"...chronicles the previously untold life of a soldier who explored the far west, lost an arm to a gunshot wound and knew Robert E Lee and George Armstrong Custer, among the giants of his time. “

- Tallahassee Democrat

"High marks should be awarded Huffstodt for producing a highly readable and engaging work. ...The photographs and illustrations are exceptional in their clarity and appeal,.. this is a useful book and a worthwhile read... It should be very appealing to a popular Civil War audience and those interested in Illinois’ role in that conflict. It is another useful tile in the grand mosaic of Civil War history that is ever unfolding."

- Civil War Monitor

"contains magnificent tales of the Civil War and post Civil War Years. This wonderful biography brings its readers the turmoil of the American Civil War, the terrible deaths and destruction caused by the war, and the attempts to rebuild our country, and the heartache suffered by families divided by the war."

- Civil War Courier

"There were many generals on both sides of the Civil War that have been ignored or forgotten since the closing of that tragic conflict. Most of them were not the front echelon of military leaders, corps commanders, or generals of the armies and many were simply in less conspicuous commands guarding the railroads, important industrial cities, or relatively inactive departments. Martin Davis Hardin was on the front lines, fought in seventeen battles, lost his left arm and took over the northern defenses of Washington, D.C., at the time of Early’s Raid, but until now, he has not rated a biography of note. James T. Huffstodt has filled this void with a nicely written volume highlighting Hardin’s military career and the usefulness of having friends in high places...a well constructed book, with excellent photographs and some useful maps at appropriate spots in the narrative... He covers the ground well, however, and proves his point that although Hardin is normally lost to history, he deserves to be better known"

- The Journal of America’s Military Past

"This highly readable well-researched volume rescues General Hardin from oblivion while relating the sad exploits of a talented but sometimes dysfunctional family."

- Civil War Times

“The book is at its best describing military engagements in the East from the perspective of a leading soldier who seemed to be everywhere… The outstanding feature of the book is its thorough research… a welcome addition to the literature on combat in the East.”

- The Journal of Southern History

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