by Brian C. Melton
Columbia, Mo.: University of Missouri, 2007. Pp. ix, 292.
Illus., tables, append, notes, biblio., index. $44.95. ISBN: 0826217397
Noting that the common perception of Henry W. Slocum's military skills are based on a "lack-luster performance at Gettysburg," Prof. Melton (Liberty University), proceeds to fill us in on the details of the general's career in what is the first biography in nearly a century.
A West Pointer (1852), like many officers, Slocum left the army after four years' of active duty, to pursue the law in New York State. When the Civil War broke out he stepped forward and quickly rose from leading a regiment to brigade, division, corps, and eventually even army command. He served in virtually all the major battles in the East from Bull Run until Gettysburg, and then went West to serve in the Atlanta, Georgia, and Carolina campaigns, ending the war at Bentonville in command of Sherman's left wing, while rising to major general.
Melton argues that Slocum "grew" during the war, steadily improving his skills, a sound observation, but suggest that his post-war political career, which involved switching from the Republicans to the Democrats, caused many contemporaries to downplay his role in the war.
A good book for those interested in command, tactics, and operations, army politics, and Sherman's campaigns from Atlanta to Bentonville.