Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ Free Shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
The Quartermaster: Montgomery C. Meigs, Lincoln's General, Master Builder of the Union Army Hardcover – October 25, 2016
|New from||Used from|
"Warlight" by Michael Ondaatje
A dramatic coming-of-age story set in the decade after World War II, "Warlight" is the mesmerizing new novel from the best-selling author of "The English Patient." Pre-order today
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
“Montgomery Meigs may have been a more important architect of Union victory in the Civil War than Grant, Sherman, Farragut—more important than anyone except Lincoln himself. And before supplying the armies that won the war, he supervised the expansion of the Capitol, including the construction of its new dome, along with the creation of the aqueduct that brought clean water to Washington. This splendid biography offers new insights on this man of many talents.” (James McPherson, author of The War That Forged a Nation)
“As quartermaster general, Montgomery Meigs was one of the architects of Union victory in the Civil War. A brilliant engineer and talented organizer, he supplied the troops in the field and on the march, a daunting undertaking. Relatively unknown in our times, two of his enduring achievements can be seen today—the Capitol dome and Arlington National Cemetery. Robert O'Harrow, Jr.'s compelling biography of this remarkable man and soldier is rich in details and rightly places Meigs among the major leaders who saved the Union.” (Jeffry D. Wert, author of The Sword of Lincoln: The Army of the Potomac)
“O’Harrow’s compact and remarkably readable portrait of Montgomery Meigs shows that Lincoln’s Quartermaster, long recognized as a significant player, was an even more fascinating and consequential figure than has been realized.” (Douglas Wilson, winner of the Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize, author of Lincoln’s Sword)
“The Quartermaster offers a vivid and eminently human portrait of Montgomery Meigs, the brilliant and principled general whose mastery of supply and logistics on a grand scale contributed decisively to Union victory in the Civil War. Too long overlooked, Meigs deserves a place beside such luminaries as Grant and Sherman, as O'Harrow convincingly demonstrates in this fast-paced, bracing account. This is one of the most important Civil War biographies to appear in recent years.” (Peter Cozzens, author of The Earth is Weeping: The Epic Story of the Indian Wars for the American West)
“O'Harrow's matter-of-fact style is well suited to demonstrating why this creative, hard-working officer deserves a more prominent place among the heroes of the conflict…. This biography of a man who labored tirelessly to secure a fame that would outlive him is recommended for readers interested in American history, the Civil War, and the history of Washington.” (Library Journal)
“The lively story of the Civil War’s most unlikely—and most uncelebrated—genius.” (Allen Guelzo The Wall Street Journal)
“Robert O’Harrow brings an eye for lively detail and an appreciative sympathy for his subject . . . A former member of Lincoln’s Cabinet remarked that without Meigs’s superb contributions, “the civil war in the United States could not have been prosecuted . . . with the smallest hope of success.” The Quartermaster does much to sustain this judgment, highlighting the centrality of logistics to the Union victory and situating a principal architect of that success near center stage in the compelling national drama.” (The Washington Post)
“An excellent biography . . . The author masterfully traces Meigs’ role in a variety of endeavors in the decades prior to the conflict. . . . Historians interested in the operations of the quartermaster department during the Civil War, particularly purchasing and distribution practices, will find this volume extremely useful. . . . O’Harrow’s thorough, masterfully crafted, and impeccably researched biography is destined to become the authoritative volume on Meigs.” (Civil War Monitor)
About the Author
Robert O’Harrow Jr. is an award-winning reporter on the investigative unit at The Washington Post. O’Harrow is the author of No Place to Hide, Zero Day: The Threat in Cyberspace, and The Quartermaster, a biography of Montgomery C. Meigs. He was a contributor to the 2016 biography, Trump Revealed: An American Journey of Ambition, Ego, Money, and Power. He lives with his wife and son in Arlington, Virginia.
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Meigs was very good at what he did. The author of this biography, O'Harrow, writes cleanly and well, although not elegantly. He gives us a sense of Meigs' work and his persona.
Meigs work was far reaching. He showed up in Chattanooga to develop logistical support for Grant's effort to break the Confederate siege, after the major Union defeat at Chickamauga. He mainly stayed in Washington, D. C. and devoted enormous energy tro keeping Union forces supplied. But--compared with the Confederates' logistical efforts--he was very successful. It did not hurt, of course, that the North had more resources available. But Meigs deployed those well.
The story of Meigs as a person is also told pretty well.
In short, I think that this is a very good biography of an important--and often underappreciated soldier-- in the Civil War. . . .
There are few biographical appreciations of Montgomery Meigs. It is a common occurrence in Civil War writing that the General Staff of the US Armed forces is too obscure to deal with. Few of the members of the staff left much of a bread crumb trail ( James Barnett Fry, Provost Marshall of the Draft years in notable as a whole section of the Offical Records s dedicated to the PMO. )
There are, actually, two other bios of Meigs. One by the preeminent historian Russell Weigley (1939) and another several decades on, by David Miller (2000). Weigley does a good job of addressing strategic policy and activities of the Quartermaster Department. Miller is great for enlarging on the private Meigs and his career as engineer/architect of the District of Columbia.
Robert O'Harrow Jr brings his investigative reporting knowledge of Federal governmental and political workings to the study of a soldier who by character and practice, as assigned director of DC federal constuction programs, had the skills and connections to act as the chief logistician for the Union Armies mission of defeating the Confederacy. From a military establishment of a mere 18,000 regulars and 150,000 or so militia, Meigs had to ride herd over an institution that increased over an order of magnitude in less than 10 months. Every aspect of purchase, transportation and distribution of the majority of goods and consumables was under his control. Railroads within theater of operations became the army's responsibility. While most rolling stock was contracted for, in high risk areas some was leased. Over time the Army purchased it's own fleet of barges and steamers, defraying liabilities for property. Ocean crews were contracted, but river crews were mostly Department employees or soldiers.
Wagons and horses were everywhere. The quartermaster department department provided all the wagons and all the horses for the Army, no matter the service use.
The task was immense. It took the Army two years to perfect the management and systems to maintain operational control of supply. It was another indicator of eventual Confederate collapse that by mid 1863 the Federal logistics system could rapidly respond to crisis and divert the strategic fire hose of means on to a situation such as a besieged Chattanooga TN and in a matter of weeks, overwhelm Bragg's forces.
This is a journalistic read. The writing is crisp and succinct. O'Harrow is a master of his style. Not so much the subject matter expert. I did a quick read in two days. Even being cursory there were half a dozen occasions where I found fart bombs that I found summations of campaigns or the acts of commanders that didn't ring true; borrowed opinion that was out of place, event summaries or strategic impacts not consistent with the presentation. I'm not talking a William Marvel OMG, editorial catches that would have polished the work up.
It's an excellent read. There is a nice amount of intelligent nuts and bolts about logistics here to give the reader a sense of the unique responsibilities and criticality of Meigs contribution to the war effort.
A West Point graduate and trained engineer, Meigs was frustrated by his desk job far away from the excitement of pre-war Washington DC. In 1837 he was paired with Robert E. Lee to improve navigation in the Mississippi River. Eventually Meigs was called to the city to oversee the design and building of an aqueduct to bring drinking water from Great Falls to Washington. He also took a heavy interest in guiding the redesign and building of a new dome over the Capitol building. Along the way he became close friends with, and received considerable support from, Jefferson Davis, whom he invited along with Stephen A. Douglas and the Smithsonian's Joseph Henry to the aqueduct groundbreaking.
When the war began, Meigs parted ways with Davis and other former friends; he never forgot their treason to the Union. He quickly became a valued adviser to Abraham Lincoln, Secretary of War Cameron and his successor Stanton, and other military generals who became more famous for their exploits and failures. But all acknowledged that the Union war effort would not have been possible without Meigs leading the Quartermaster corps. As Quartermaster General, Meigs built a system of acquisition and distribution that enabled supplies ranging from horses to food to clothing to wagons to ammunition to reach soldiers in far-flung locations and always on the move. Where Southern forces were routinely starving, wearing rags, and ill-equipped, Meigs and his quartermaster staff kept the Union well-fed, well-clothed, and well-armed. It made the difference in the war.
Meigs and the Quartermaster Corps are usually covered with extreme brevity in other books on Lincoln and the Civil War. O'Harrow does justice to Meigs, delving into his history as well as his war service. The first half of the book examines the various projects, bureaucratic ordeals, and accomplishments in the two decades leading up to the war of a man that all parties agree was devoutly honest, hardworking, and skillful in developing grand building projects. The second half of the book focuses on his actions during the Civil War itself, including the phenomenal accomplishment of getting supplies to Armies and Navies throughout the North, the South, and the West. Meigs interacts and becomes a trusted adviser to Abraham Lincoln, to Edwin Stanton, and even to William Seward. He comes off as a confident man, skillful in making things happen, though sometimes frustrated and quick to anger at fraud and incompetence. Following the war he remains Quartermaster General for many years, designs and constructs the Pension Building (now the National Building Museum), and even learns how to use new technology - the typewriter - to compensate for his notoriously illegible handwriting and shorthand.
In this concise book of about 250 pages of text (plus another 40 pages of well-researched notes), O'Harrow squeezes in 34 quick-to-read chapters. The writing is fluid and interesting; the information comprehensive and insightful. Perhaps more could be written about Meigs's personal life - his wife and family are related to minor players in the background despite his clear love and admiration for them - but these are minimal grievances in an otherwise comprehensive, yet highly readable, book.
Most recent customer reviews
Brought out a real factual face of the civil war
And what it takes to support an army of thousands of men