Born to a well-to-do, connected family in 1816, Montgomery C. Meigs graduated from West Point as an engineer. He helped build America's forts and served under Lt. Robert E. Lee to make navigation improvements on the Mississippi River. As a young man, he designed the Washington aqueducts in a city where people were dying from contaminated water. He built the spectacular wings and the massive dome of the brand-new US Capitol.
Introduced to President Lincoln by Secretary of State William Seward, Meigs became Lincoln's quartermaster. It was during the Civil War that Meigs became a national hero. He commanded Ulysses S. Grant's base of supplies that made Union victories possible. He sustained Sherman's army in Georgia and the March to the Sea. After the war Meigs built Arlington Cemetery.
Robert O'Harrow Jr. brings Meigs alive in the commanding and intensely personal Quartermaster. We get to know this major military figure whom Lincoln and his cabinet and generals called the key to victory and learn how he fed, clothed, and armed the Union Army using his ingenuity and devotion. O'Harrow tells the full dramatic story of this fierce, loyal, forward-thinking major American figure.
©2016 Robert O'Harrow Jr. (P)2016 Tantor
"The lively story of the Civil War’s most unlikely—and most uncelebrated—genius." (The Wall Street Journal)
As a few other had stated, I was excited to see a title on one of my favorite subjects, the American Civil War to focus on something other than battles and leaders, and/or another regurgitation of Gettysburg, Robert E. Lee, or George A. Custer, arguing to the potential leader that the author had a new piece of information, a historical angle that had yet to be published only to tell the story again from another perspective. A biography about a the United States Quartermaster, Montgomery C. Meigs would surely present an untold story, without boring me with Corp movement, and unit strength.
A Michigan native, the author had my attention from the start. I was interested to learn Meigs direct involvement in the construction of historic Fort Wayne. I've been to the fort countless times so to learn of his involvement to the degree that he was (to me) was enlightening. And it was also very interesting to learn of his involvement in canal construction, and the construction of the United States Capital building. He was more or less a project manager and having also delved into that professional arena, I was able to understand his leadership from that perspective.
I found the entirety of the book to be a bit taxing as Gen. Meigs found quite a bit of time discussing (writing and recording) what he did, and how he affected such and such. I guess an officer becomes a General by applying an attention to detail, even if includes logging every interaction, one sided as it may be, so that historians might note your significance down the road. It worked in this case but I find it hard to listen to how a person thinks they are even if they aren't the one publishing the accomplishments. Nonetheless, he did accomplish a great deal so his praises we should sing.
And the reader did an excellent job! Not quite Grover Gardner but certainly a worthy performance. I enjoyed the even flow of Mr. Perkins delivery and look forward to listening to other titles he's narrated.
If you're tired of the same old tales from the Civil War and are looking for angle that has yet to be beaten to death then add this one to your library. Your enjoyment may reach beyond mine though try not to wince from the self absorption of Meigs many talents though I could be way off.
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