The Soldiers' General

Major General Gouverneur K. Warren and the Civil War

Paula C. Walker, Robert I. Girardi

Date Published :
January 1970
Publisher :
Savas Beatie
Illustration :
21 maps and 60 photographs and illustrations
No associated books available.


History is indeed written by the victors and it has not been kind to the memory of Maj. Gen. Gouverneur K. Warren. The traditional image of Warren as a self-important, sullen, and cautious commander who, despite his many talents, was unreliable in a crisis was cemented into place by Gens. Phil Sheridan and Ulysses S. Grant—the two men who removed him from command. The Soldiers' General: Major General Gouverneur K. Warren and the Civil War, by Paula C. Walker and Robert I Girardi, offers readers a thorough examination of his record and a chance to weigh the facts for themselves.

In May of 1864, Warren was regarded by his superiors as the best corps commander in the Army of the Potomac. One high-placed staff officer described the bold, courageous, and accomplished engineer as "the only man of inborn originality in the army.” Commanding generals Joseph Hooker and George G. Meade relied upon Warren's judgment and counsel during the Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, and Mine Run campaigns. But something went wrong during the war's final months. After leading his corps to a decisive victory at Five Forks on April 1, 1865, General Sheridan accused Warren of deliberate slowness and timidity and with General Grant's blessing, relieved him of command.

Using hundreds of primary sources and other rarely seen documents and accounts, Walker and Girardi detail Warren's military record, including his rise to corps command, removal, and subsequent fight for justice. As the record demonstrates, Sheridan and Grant despised Warren's independent nature and criticism, and ultimately manufactured excuses that led to his removal. Unfortunately for Warren, Lee's surrender and Lincoln's assassination overshadowed his plight. Warren spent the rest of his life trying to correct the historical record, but pleas for a court of inquiry were ignored or denied until Grant left the presidency. By the time a court published its findings that Sheridan's actions were unjustified, Warren was dead.

The Soldiers' General: Major General Gouverneur K. Warren and the Civil War is solid military and legal history that clarifies the historical record and deserves a place on every Civil War bookshelf.

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