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The Class of 1846: From West Point to Appomatox- Stonewall Jackson, George McClellan and Their Brothers Paperback


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 672 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (June 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 034543403X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345434036
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.5 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #400,908 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Waugh, a former correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor , brings an original but ultimately unsatisfactory approach to this study of command in the Civil War. The West Point class of 1846 graduated 59 men: 10 of them, including Stonewall Jackson (1824-1863) became confederate generals; 12, including George McClellan (1826-1885), wore stars for the Union. Waugh is at his best describing the routines of West Point and the experiences of the Mexican War (1846-1848) that welded the class into a community. But when he addresses the Civil War, he focuses almost entirely on Jackson and McClellan while their classmates receive cursory and episodic treatment in a text that jumps abruptly from Gettysburg to Appomattox. Confederates like George Pickett, Cadmus Wilcox and A. P. Hill, and Union generals like John Gibbon and Darius Couch ('46ers all), invite comparative analysis in the context of their common professional experience. What Waugh offers instead is operational narrative, well-written but adding nothing to standard images of McClellan's failure and Jackson's genius. Photos not seen by PW .
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

In this most entertaining and readable book, Waugh offers us a collective biography of a class of West Pointers and their careers from when they entered the academy through the end of the Civil War. The two most prominent members of the class were George McClellan and Thomas Jackson; the better student proved the poorer general. In focusing on their careers , Waugh inevitably gives short shrift to the conflict after classmates George Pickett and John Gibbon confronted each other at Gettysburg. The stories are familiar but retold rather well; much less is made of the common experiences of the group and their impact on their generalship. Buffs and lay readers will nevertheless enjoy this well-written chronicle.
- Brooks D. Simpson, Arizona State Univ., Tempe
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Mr. waugh is a Journalist who had a story to tell.
Jerry M. Bullock
I found Waugh's book to be an interesting read, delightfully written and well researched.
Matt W.
This book is a MUST READ for any serious student of the Civil War.
Diana L. Nelson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Aussie Reader on October 16, 1999
Format: Paperback
I found this book to be a very enjoyable book to read and if helped fill in a few spaces left about the great names of the Civil War before they became Generals. I have always enjoy reading accounts of the war with Mexico and seeing how the future enemies of the American Civil War fought together, saved each others lives on occassions and learnt the common lessons of war. This is a very interesting and well presented account although I found the battle scenes lacking in depth but I would suppose that was not the authors main focus but more on the people involved. I think it may have helped to have added a few maps of the fighting in Mexico and the Valley as if you have no prior knowledge of these areas you really do not appreciate the efforts involved in moving from one point to another. Overall this is a decent book and most people should enjoy immersing themselves in this bit of history.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 4, 1997
Format: Hardcover
Although most of the information in this book is not new, it is presented with such flair that it is hard to put down. From time to time, I was offput by Waugh's determination to go into excruciating detail on some battles. For example, did the anger of the Union cook in Charleston harbor do anything for the Ft. Sumter issue? (If I were to indicate that perhaps it was nonetheless humorous in those dark and sad times, I would feel insensitive.) Using so much print here and throughout, he omitted other battles that could have added to his writing laurels. Nonetheless, I felt the anguish of our country's patriots, on both sides of the rifles. Having myself completed a military career, I tried to put myself in their shoes of yesteryear. How I would have cried having to fire upon those with whom I bonded in aviation cadets. And with whom I still stay in touch, these 45 years later. Or if some of my family, i.e., parents, sister, or children, had chosen to fly a different flag than mine. On the other hand, I relished Waugh's description of General Tom Jackson revving back and forth in Virginia time and time again. We've lived in the metropolitan area of Washington, DC for many years, and traveled the length of Virginia several times. How exciting to read about the names of so many places that we have driven past at least a dozen times enroute to our family home in Mississippi, yet another Confederate stronghold. Having visited Gettysburg's battlefield provided us with another sense of our nation's anguish. This book provides so many moments of recall, that I could continue on, but I would never be able to capture the spirit of that era that Waugh has so generously shared with us. Clearly, this book will rank alongside the top notch Catton works of the Civil War.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Walter Foulke on January 18, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a fascinating perspective on the Civil War from the perspective of one class at West Point that ultimtely provided many officers who ended up serving together in the Mexican war and the Indian wars but eventually served on different sides in the Civil War, usually depending on where they originally came from. This is one of the most interesting historical books ever published about the Civil War that is avidly read by both Southerners and Northerners.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Patricia A. Crane on November 30, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Such a unique class of West Point students and their novelty continues well beyond graduation. Waugh does a remarkable job walking the reader with the "players." Great read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By R. Pruitt on August 6, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Mr. Waugh has assembled an amazing story wrapped around one of the most significant events in America's history. He does a great job of weaving the story through numerous accounts of military history while providing exact quotes from original documents.

I bought this book after visiting Stonewall Jackson's gravesite in Lexington, VA. It is truly a unique series of events and circumstances that brought all these men together as a brotherhood at West Point and defending America, only to turn on one-another later in life during the Civil War.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Southsounder on September 18, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Bought this book for a second read and for my own collection, near perfect condition and as stated a great read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By John P. Malone on September 3, 2009
Format: Paperback
An in depth review of the character and abilities of these West Point cadets. From young men through marriages, death and the Civil War these men are reviewed not only as soldiers but as human beings. Stonewall Jackson and George McClellan are followed all the way from West Point through the Mexican War, Indian Wars to the Civil War. Many others from the 1846 class are reviewed also. Much of their personal lives are revealed as you get know and understand the human beings along with the soldiers.

Easy to read and follow. Difficult to put down.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 28, 1998
Format: Hardcover
John Waugh has done a masterful job of intertwining the bittersweet lives of these famous civil war classmates. Your heart goes out to the tragedy of Gen. George McClellan, a man frustrated with the desire to protect his men and yet always tentative in the approach to battle. These men's experiences are intimately tied together in ways that only freshen one's understanding of the Civil War. A must read.
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