George Rogers Clark: I Glory in War

Overview


George Rogers Clark (1752?1818) led four victorious campaigns against the Indians and British in the Ohio Valley during the American Revolution, but his most astonishing coup was recapturing Fort Sackville in 1779, when he was only twenty-six. For eighteen days, in the dead of winter, Clark and his troops marched through bone-chilling nights to reach the fort. With a deft mix of guile and violence, Clark led his men to triumph, without losing a single soldier. Although historians have ranked him among the ...
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Overview


George Rogers Clark (1752–1818) led four victorious campaigns against the Indians and British in the Ohio Valley during the American Revolution, but his most astonishing coup was recapturing Fort Sackville in 1779, when he was only twenty-six. For eighteen days, in the dead of winter, Clark and his troops marched through bone-chilling nights to reach the fort. With a deft mix of guile and violence, Clark led his men to triumph, without losing a single soldier. Although historians have ranked him among the greatest rebel commanders, Clark’s name is all but forgotten today. William R. Nester resurrects the story of Clark’s triumphs and his downfall in this, the first full biography of the man in more than fifty years.

Nester attributes Clark’s successes to his drive and daring, good luck, charisma, and intellect. Born of a distinguished Virginia family, Clark wielded an acute understanding of human nature, both as a commander and as a diplomat. His interest in the natural world was an inspiration to lifelong friend Thomas Jefferson, who asked him in 1784 to lead a cross-country expedition to the Pacific and back. Clark turned Jefferson down. Two decades later, his youngest brother, William, would become the Clark celebrated as a member of the Corps of Discovery.

By the beginning of the nineteenth century, though, George Rogers Clark may not have been fit to command any expedition. After the revolution, he raged against the government and pledged fealty to other nations, leading to his arrest under the Sedition Act.

The inner demons that fueled Clark’s anger also drove him to excessive drinking. He died at the age of sixty-five, bitter, crippled, and alcoholic. He was, Nester shows, a self-destructive hero: a volatile, multidimensional man whose glorying in war ultimately engaged him in conflicts far removed from the battlefield and against himself.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“William Nester does a terrific job of reminding modern readers of George Rogers Clark’s heroism. An important contribution to early U.S. history.” Douglas Brinkley, author of The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America

“As the Hannibal of the West during the American Revolution, George Rogers Clark saw his star shine brightly, but it soon faded due to his own failings, the circumstances he faced, and the machinations of bureaucrats and jealous rivals. Veteran frontier historian William Nester chronicles the rise and fall of Clark in this biography, a must-read for anyone interested in the American Revolution and frontier history.”—James Holmberg, editor of Dear Brother: Letters of William Clark to Jonathan Clark

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780806142944
  • Publisher: University of Oklahoma Press
  • Publication date: 11/1/2012
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 827,078
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author


William R. Nester is author of numerous books on military history, including The Epic Battles for Ticonderoga, 1758 and The Revolutionary Years, 1775–1789: The Art of American Power during the Early Republic.
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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations vii

Acknowledgments ix

Introduction 3

1 Nature and Nurture 7

2 The Surveyor 11

3 Lord Dunmore's War 19

4 The Dark and Bloody Ground 29

5 Rebellion 34

6 Promotion 52

7 The Bloodless Conquest 64

8 War of Words 78

9 Counterpunch 95

10 Purgatory 118

11 Caging the Hair Buyer 137

12 Crossroads 155

13 Forting Up 173

14 The Village Burner 188

15 Fire in the Rear 208

16 The Bloodiest Year 232

17 Peace 248

18 Distant Horizons 259

19 Conspiracies 277

20 Final Reckonings 313

Notes 335

Bibliography 367

Index 375

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