FW: H-War Book Review: Rein on Connelly, _John M. Schofield and the Politics of Generalship_
- Because of John Schofield's importance to the Western Theater, I thought
you would be interested in this review.
Judy and Bob Huddleston
10643 Sperry Street
Northglenn, CO 80234-3612
I am A thousand times meaner A hundred times Harder and A damed sight wors
Looking than I Ever was so you can form some sort of an idea what sort of A
Looking man you have now for A Husband if this kind of Buisness wont make
men hard I should like to know what will it is Everyone for himself and dam
the one that pulls the hind tit
Henry Clemons of Company K, 23rd Wisconsin Infantry Regiment, to his wife
Anna in Sauk City, Wis, January 15, 1863
From: H-NET Military History Discussion List [mailto:H-WAR@...] On
Behalf Of H-War Book Review Editor Janet G. Valentine
Sent: Wednesday, December 20, 2006 1:18 PM
Subject: H-War Book Review: Rein on Connelly, _John M. Schofield and the
Politics of Generalship_
H-NET BOOK REVIEW
Published by H-War@... (December 2006)
Donald B. Connelly. _John M. Schofield and the Politics of Generalship_.
Civil War America Series. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press,
2006. xiv + 471 pp. Illustrations, maps, notes, bibliography, index. $49.95
(cloth), ISBN 0-8078-3007-0.
Reviewed for H-War by Chris Rein, USAF, Department of History, U.S. Air
The Political Life of a Professional General
With _John M. Schofield and the Politics of Generalship_, Donald B.
Connelly has masterfully illuminated the life and career of a lesser known
but vitally important figure in U.S. civil and military affairs during the
latter half of the nineteenth century. Despite winning the Medal of Honor
and serving as both Secretary of War and as Commanding General of the Army,
Schofield's name often escapes mention in modern military history texts. His
contributions to a Union victory in the Civil War and a reformed army
command structure that affirmed civilian oversight and improved relations
between the Chief and Secretary alone should guarantee him a place in
history, but his ability to maneuver in the complex political arena of the
period makes his biography a relevant and useful read. As Connelly notes,
the "volatility of American politics made it prudent for an officer to avoid
identification with one political party or faction" (p. 3) and Schofield
resolved these difficulties with an exemplary combination of professionalism
and political subordination. The various nuances of Schofield's diverse
career are clearly captured in a meticulously researched and highly readable
narrative that will be of interest to both scholars of the period and
readers concerned with the history of U.S. civil-military relations.
While the idea that war and politics are inextricably linked is certainly
not new, Schofield's career offers ample evidence of the political dexterity
required of Civil War-era commanders in order to survive and succeed.
Schofield's remarkable ability to operate within an existing, if fluid,
political system, as evidenced by his service in Missouri at the outset of
the war, demonstrates the value of an apolitical commander in a highly
charged political environment.
Schofield skillfully maneuvered between competing factions of radicals and
conservatives, and earned both the praise of his Commander-in-Chief as well
as a field command with the Army of the Ohio. In his examination of
Schofield's service in the Atlanta and Franklin-Nashville campaigns,
Connelly reveals that the battlefield was not immune from politics, although
more frequently it was politics of the army variety, and that Schofield was
as equally skilled in this environment as he was on the battlefield.
Throughout his career on active service, Schofield demonstrated that, for
commanders of the day, political savvy was often just as important as
tactical or operational expertise.
While his field service was valuable, if not remarkable, Schofield's most
important contributions to the military establishment came in the post-war
period. Service as the military governor of Virginia and as Secretary of War
in both the Johnson and Grant administrations prepared him for his
subsequent postings as the Superintendent of the U.S.
Military Academy, as commander of the three main departments of the army and
then the army itself. His numerous contributions to the reforms eventually
enshrined by Elihu Root are adequately detailed, and his proposed
consolidation of the War and Navy Departments eighty years before the
National Security Act of 1947 demonstrates his remarkable foresight.
Connelly's thorough discussion of the origins of the _Posse Comitatus_ Act
is highly relevant in today's national and internal security environment as
are his observations on the benefits of harmonious and mutually respectful
relations between the service's senior military officer and his civilian
Historians of military education will find interesting Connelly's ample
descriptions of Schofield's role as an educator and reformer.
Schofield's untiring advocacy of critical thinking and the value of a strong
liberal arts curriculum are still relevant, and the deans of our service
academies would be wise to heed them. Additionally, his advocacy of and
support for military training at civilian universities should merit his
consideration for the title "Father of the R.O.T.C." Even today, cadets at
service academies across the country still recite the text of Schofield's
August 1879 address to his cadets on the relationship between leadership and
discipline in a democratic military, and Connelly wisely includes the text
verbatim as both a refresher and to illustrate Schofield's personal
Connelly refutes some of the more damaging allegations leveled against
Schofield in James L. McDonough's _Schofield: Union General in the Civil
War and Reconstruction_ (1972), and by so doing establishes himself and his
text as the authority on the subject. If Connelly's work has any flaws, it
is his overly flattering portrayal of his subject.
While Schofield's unwise (if contemporary) racial views and his heightened
sensitivity to criticism of his exploits on the battlefield, even years
after the fact, are given ample coverage, one wonders if the General
suffered from any other unmentioned character flaws, given the prevalence of
corruption during the period and Schofield's comfort and familiarity with
prominent business leaders of the day.
The book's primary thesis, that the political and military spheres are
inextricably linked, but that military officers most frequently find success
when they can clearly define the boundaries of each, is amply illustrated
through the life of John M. Schofield. Overall, Connelly has masterfully
filled one of the few remaining voids in biographies of Civil War generals,
and his work is a must read for anyone interested in the development of
American civil-military relations. Rich footnotes and high quality maps and
illustrations further enhance a first-rate work that will grace bookshelves
as long as the institutions Schofield devoted his life to advancing and
preserving still exist.
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