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The Class of 1846: From West Point to Appomattox : Stonewall Jackson, George McClellan and Their Brothers Hardcover – February, 1994

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 635 pages
  • Publisher: Warner Books; First Edition edition (February 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446515949
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446515948
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #743,377 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.

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.

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Customer Reviews

This book is a MUST READ for any serious student of the Civil War.
Diana L. Nelson
I found Waugh's book to be an interesting read, delightfully written and well researched.
Matt W.
I was very impressed with the way Waugh weaved this story together.
John Cathcart

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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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Michael E. Fitzgerald on December 9, 2007
Format: Paperback
This is a standard rendition of two primary Civil War generals: Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson and George McClelland. In this portion of the book Waugh tells us what we already know about George, that while he was always at the head of the class moving up the ranks, he failed miserably once at the top. Similarly, Stonewall, no doubt as crazy as a loon, became the Civil War's finest and best tactician produced by either side.

Focusing as he does on the West Point graduating class of 1846, the year the War with Mexico was initiated, we meet numerous men who studied together and fight together in the Mexican War, the Indian Wars, the Mormon War and, in the climax of their military lives, against each other, in the Civil War.

Having gone through school together for 4 years, these men competed against each other for most of their adult lives. But as the competitions were intense, the personal relationships were even closer. Cadmus Wilcox was Sam Grant's best man; James Longstreet was also in the wedding party. George McClelland and Robert E. Lee served together on Winfield Scott's staff. Gideon Pillow and John B. Magruder brevet a youthful Tom Jackson at Chapultepec. Clarendon Williams, Jackson's graduation day dancing partner, dies in the Navaho war. Lee, George Thomas, George Stoneman, John Bell Hood and Albert Sidney Johnson serve for 6 years together in Texas in the US Second Cavalry. Lewis Armistead, William T. Sherman and Winfield Hancock serve together in California.

John Waugh has produced a unique view of the Civil War, through the eyes of men who, while they fought against each other with all the skill they possessed, fought against comrades, close friends and former classmates who at times, just couldn't have seemed like the enemy.
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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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