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An Interview With "Don Carlos Buell: Most Promising of All" Author Stephen D. Engle

Updated: Oct 5, 2020

Steve Engle studies and teaches the political and economic evolution of the 19th Century American Republic. His research in this period has focused on the study of the American Civil War and Reconstruction Era, and his books examine the ethnic dimensions of the period, civil-military relations during the war, and the politics of power. His books include: Yankee Dutchman: The Life of Franz Sigel (1993), Don Carlos Buell: Most  Promising of All (1999), Struggle for the Heartland (2001 a History Book Club Selection), The American Civil War in the West (2002), The American Civil War: This Mighty Scourge of War (2003, co-authored with Gallagher, Krick, and Glatthaar), A Yankee Horseman in  the Shenandoah Valley (2012, co-edited with David Coles), Civil War: Fort Sumter to Appomattox(co-authored with Gallagher, Krick, and Glatthaar, 2014); A War Worth Fighting: Abraham Lincoln's Presidency and Civil War America (2015). His recent work, Gathering to Save a Nation: Lincoln and the Union’s War Governors received the 55th Annual Barondess-Lincoln Award for 2017, was a finalist for the Emerging Civil War Book Award, and named Honorable Mention for the Sally and Morris Lasky Prize in Political History. Learn more about Stephen D. Engle here.

1. What inspired you to write Don Carlos Buell: Most Promising of All?

Several things actually, but most importantly he had no published biography, and his story of command in the West was supremely significant to how and why the war unfolded as it in the West early on. The fact that he had a voluminous body of personal papers also helped.

2. How do you feel that General Don Carlos Buell influenced the Western Theater of the Civil War?

Beull'stenure in command coincided with Lincoln’s limited war for limited goals approach to preserving the Union, and he carefully followed the McClellan-school of war and politics. It was his conciliatory approach to the defeating the Confederates that ultimately brought him down.

3. Why do you think the Western Theater of the Civil War is important?

The Western Theater is important for several militarily strategic reasons, but most especially because of the fact that as the Union armies penetrated the Confederate Heartland, it threatened not only the armies, but also the populace and disrupted slavery, which commenced the process of occupation and reconstruction.

4. If you could go back in time, what advice would you have for Don Carlos Buell?

Grow with the war as many commanders did…..


Purchase Don Carlos Buell: Most Promising of All on Amazon.

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Darryl R. Smith
Darryl R. Smith
Oct 01, 2020

A most excellent and fair bio on Buell. Good stuff!

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