Book Review: Henry Ware Lawton: Union Infantryman, Frontier Soldier, Charismatic Warrior

Archives

by Michael E. Shay

Columbia: University of Missouri, 2016. Pp. xvi, 324. Illus., maps, notes, biblio., index. $29.95. ISBN: 0826221009

From Volunteer to National Hero

Shay, a retired a Connecticut Superior Court Senior Judge, who has proven himself an able independent historian, authoring several useful works, including Sky Pilots, on chaplains in the AEF's 26th Division, and Yankee Division in the First World War, has produced what is the first proper biography of Henry War Lawton (1843-1899).

Shay opens with a short look at Lawton’s family background and childhood. He then follows Indianan Lawton into the Volunteer Army within days of Lincoln’s call for volunteers at the outbreak of the Civil War, and his rise from enlisted man to brevet colonel, by dint of good service at Shiloh, Chickamauga, and Atlanta, for the last of which he was awarded a belated Medal of Honor after the war.

Shay devotes most of the volume (four of his ten chapters) to Lawton’s service in the “Indian Fighting Army,” during which he campaigned widely. Lawton was noted not only as an able fighter, but a good diplomat who knew how to avoid bloodshed, and a careful planner, who earned the respect of his enemies, though at times a hard drinker. His most notable feats were the defeat of a band of Cheyenne, Comanche, and Kiowa at Palo Duro Canyon and his capture of the noted Apache war chief Geronimo.

The final chapters cover Lawton’s service as inspector general of the Army, as a division commander in Cuba, leading from the front at Las Guasimas, El Caney, and Santiago, and in the Philippines, where he proved an able military governor, but was killed in action against Filipino troops commanded, ironically, by Maj. Gen. Licerio Gerónimo.

In telling Lawton’s story, Shay also looks at family life, American society in the Gilded Age, the army, and many of the people whom Lawton encountered, such as Ambrose Bierce, Ranald McKenzie, Geronimo, Leonard Wood, Phil Sheridan, and Theodore Roosevelt. This is a rewarding read for anyone interested in American military history.

Note: Henry Ware Lawton is also available as an e-book, ISBN 978-0-8262-2083-7.

---///---

Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor   


Buy it at Amazon.com




X

ad
0
30

Help Keep Us Soaring

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling. We need your help in reversing that trend. We would like to add 30 new subscribers this month.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close