Frederick W. Lander: The Great Natural American Soldier
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DescriptionTall and handsome, vigorous and hot-tempered, fearless to a fault, Frederick W. Lander (1821- 1862) became one of the most name-recognized Americans in the years 1854 to 1862. A top-notch railroad and wagon-road engineer in the western territories, a popular lyceum speaker, a published fi ction writer and poet, an adept negotiator with Native Americans, and an agent for the Lincoln administration and the Union army, the Massachusetts native attracted newspaper coverage from coast to coast for his renown and versatility. His name evoked emotion and passion among his friends and associates, including artists, poets, explorers, engineers, soldiers, and politicians, but at his untimely death early in the Civil War, he quickly and tragically descended into anonymity. With an energy that befi ts his subject, Gary L. Ecelbarger brings to life this intriguing, romantic personality of the nineteenth century, tempting the imagination to consider what Lander might have accomplished had he lived longer.
Using more than fi ve hundred unpublished letters and documents written by Lander and his colleagues, superiors, and subordinates, Ecelbarger delves into all of the major aspects of Lander's life but focuses upon its fi nal chapter in the Civil War. Promoted directly from unpaid aide-de-camp to brigadier general, Lander was quickly dubbed ""the great natural American soldier"" by Lieutenant General Winfi eld Scott for his brilliant promise as a military leader. The author offers a richly detailed narrative of Lander's courageous participation in three campaigns during the fi rst year of the conflict: Rich Mountain, May- July, 1861; Ball's Bluff, September- October, 1861; and the previously undocumented campaign against Stonewall Jackson, January- March, 1862.
Ecelbarger studies Lander's flaws, attributes, and achievements to provide a judicious, comprehensive analysis of his actions and character. In Frederick W. Lander , he produces the spellbinding story of a once-forgotten hero who now appears life size.
Louisiana State University Press
1 January 2001
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