Civil War to the Bloody End
The Life and Times of Major General Samuel P. Heintzelman
Military History - Civil War - Western History
6 x 9, 464 pp.
14 b&w photos., 7 paintings., 9 drawings., 9 maps.
Pub Date: 09/06/2006
Canseco-Keck History Series
Price:        $35.00


Published by Texas A&M University Press

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2007 Most Significant Scholarly Book, presented by the Texas Institute of Letters
2001 Gaspar Perez de Villagra Award, presented by the Historical Society of New Mexico

Civil War to the Bloody End

The Life and Times of Major General Samuel P. Heintzelman

By Jerry Thompson

If president Lincoln could have unmade a general, perhaps he would have started with Samuel Peter "Sourdough" Heintzelman, whose early military successes were overshadowed by repeated Union defeats in the Civil War and his own argumentative nature. Perhaps this personality was the reason Heintzelman once said, "I have no hesitation in leaving my reputation . . . in the hands of the future historian" (Washington Daily National Intelligencer August 9, 1865). On the other hand, perhaps his hindsight told him that his was a life worth studying.
By the time his friend Robert E. Lee left Arlington to lead the Rebel army against the bluecoats, Heintzelman had already seen duty in Mexico, established Fort Yuma in California in 1850, mined for silver in Arizona, and ably led U.S. forces on the Texas-Mexico border during the 1859–1960 Cortina War. During the Civil War, he was in the forefront of the fighting at First Bull Run and the disastrous 1862 Peninsula Campaign. He commanded the III Corps of the Army of the Potomac at the siege of Yorktown and in the ferocious fighting at Williamsburg, Fair Oaks, Oak Grove, Savage's Station, Glendale, and Malvern Hill. Although he aspired to succeed General George B. McClellan, he was relieved of his command after his troops were badly mauled at Second Bull Run. After demonstrating his inability to guard the southern approaches to Washington D.C. from Virginia guerillas, he spent the latter part of the war administering prison camps in the Midwest, keeping a watchful eye on Copperhead subversives, and quarreling with more than one disgruntled governor.
In early Reconstruction Texas, Heintzelman struggled with the conflict between former Secessionists and Radical Republicans.By mining Heintzelman's massive journals and countless historical archives, Jerry Thompson has not only provided a fascinating account of a frustrated general, but has also given readers a richly textured account of the events, the political crosscurrents, and the times in which "Sourdough" won his unenviable reputation.

Jerry Thompson is Regents Professor at Texas A&M International University in Laredo and a past president of the Texas State Historical Association. He holds a doctorate from Carnegie–Mellon University and has received numerous awards from the Texas Historical Commission, Western Writers of America, Texas State Historical Association, Historical Society of New Mexico, and Arizona Historical Society.

What Readers Are Saying:

Civil War to the Bloody End is highly recommended to Civil War enthusiasts interested in the biography of a lesser Union general, especially since the main source for the book is the general’s own journals.” --Amazon

“This well-written and well-researched book has the merit of being both a life and a times biography. Professor Thompson should be congratulated for his performance.” --Southwestern Historical Quarterly

“But the author has put together an interesting and well-written book about an obstinate and difficult-to-work-with regular army officer in a sea of volunteers…. Made extensive use of archival and manuscript materials, government publications, and published books and articles…. Historical researchers of the American Civil War will, after reading this book, have a greater understanding of Major General Samuel P. Heintzelman’s role in the Army of the Potomac and in leading the Union victories at Fair Oaks and other places in Virginia…. Professor Thompson has done the history profession a favor by adding this important biography to the shelves of students of United States military history. It is well recommended.” --H-Net Reviews

“Exhaustively researched with an eye toward exacting detail, this is a work that proves there is still much to be done in Civil War scholarship. …a definitive work on a subject that has long been needed in Civil War scholarship.” --New Mexico Historical Review

“Thorough biography of Major General Samuel Peter Heintzelman . . . gives readers an excellent understanding of the position of U.S. Army officers in American society and middle-class life . . . . Strongly supported by well-chosen, evocative photographs and contemporary illustrations, Thompson’s book will be of benefit to anyone interested in mid-nineteenth-century America.” --Journal of Southern History


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