For Honor, Glory, and Union: The Mexican and Civil War Letters of Brig. Gen. William Haines Lytle

Overview

Cincinnati native William Haines Lytle volunteered for service in the Mexican War in late 1847. By 1861 the fervent pro-states' rights Democrat with strong family ties to Kentucky slaveholders was in personality and temperament more a Southern cavalier than a Yankee. But, like his father and grandfather before him, he believed strongly in the preservation of the Union. Lytle's Civil War letters detail the intensity of the battles in the western theater and illuminate the activities of the Army of the Ohio and the...
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Overview

Cincinnati native William Haines Lytle volunteered for service in the Mexican War in late 1847. By 1861 the fervent pro-states' rights Democrat with strong family ties to Kentucky slaveholders was in personality and temperament more a Southern cavalier than a Yankee. But, like his father and grandfather before him, he believed strongly in the preservation of the Union. Lytle's Civil War letters detail the intensity of the battles in the western theater and illuminate the activities of the Army of the Ohio and the Army of the Cumberland in the early years of the war. Because he liked to participate in society, his writings also offer glimpses of the interaction between Union officers and Southern civilians in Kentucky, Tennessee, and Alabama. During the Mexican War, Lytle primarily served garrison duty. Little has been recorded about garrison life during the Mexican War, but it was there Lytle learned to deal with troops and to handle periods of inaction and unpleasant situations. These skills would prove invaluable to him in the Civil War. Lytle became known for his courage under fire and his devotion to his troops. He rose quickly through the ranks, participating in combat at Carnifex Ferry and Perryville. Lytle was killed at Chickamauga while leading a valiant charge to stop Confederate troops storming through an opening in Union lines.
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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
The letters of Lytle, a Union brigadier general with strong Southern ties who was killed at Chickamauga, edited by the curator of Historical Collections for the University of Pittsburgh Library System. Lytle, a general whom few but Civil War scholars and the most dedicated buffs buffs will have heard of, was an Ohio-born son of a US congressman who was raised as a Southern gentleman with strong ties to Kentucky. A volunteer in the Mexican War, he served with distinction and returned to run successfully for a position in the Ohio legislature, as well as to build his legal practice. He later ran for further office-with no success-notably, on a position of support for the Dred Scott decision, which denied blacks citizenship. When the Civil War broke out, Lytle was torn in his loyalties, but ultimately chose to support the Union. The letters compiled here offer a witty, bright look at the workings of the Union army, as well as Lytle's relations with his family and friends. Although the descriptions of actions and life in the army are crisp and informative, one has to wonder whether readers really need to pick through the trivia of Lytle's personal life to find the nuggets of history to which he offers testimony. Lytle's account of his actions at Carnifex Ferry and Perryville are engaging, and his descriptionss of relations with Southern civilians are a unique facet, adding to what is known about the everyday life of Union officers and their interactions with Southerners. Well researched and clearly organized, but this one's for the scholars, not the general reader, even among Civil War buffs. .
From the Publisher

"Shows a Union soldier working to reconcile his southern sympathies with his root allegiance to the Union." -- McCormick (SC) Messenger

"Carter's edition of the letters of General William Lytle helps us understand why many partisan Democrats who despised abolitionists and Republicans, supported states' rights, and respected southerners and the South, decided to fight and, in Lytle's case, die for what they believed to be their nation." -- Van Hall

"This is one book that should be on the shelf of every Civil War buff or scholar as a prime example of the so many promising young lives lost in the war." -- West Virginia History

"His observations and commentary are valuable additions to knowledge of the concluding campaigns of the war." -- Choice

"A remarkable, engaging work of superb scholarship, and an invaluable contribution to the growing body of Civil War literature." -- The Midwest Book Review

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813121086
  • Publisher: University Press of Kentucky
  • Publication date: 3/28/1999
  • Pages: 264
  • Product dimensions: 6.39 (w) x 9.34 (h) x 1.15 (d)

Meet the Author

Ruth C. Carter was head of the Archives Service Center and curator of Historical Collections for the University of Pittsbugh Library System.

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Table of Contents

A Note on the Editing
Acknowledgments
Introduction 1
The Mexican War Letters, 1847-1848 39
The Civil War Letters 63
Epilogue 203
App. A Buell Court of Inquiry 209
App. B Last Speach by Brig. Gen. William Haines Lytle 222
App. C Mexican and Civil War Letters in the Lytle Papers 227
Bibliography 237
Index 235
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