The Training Ground: Grant, Lee, Sherman, and Davis in the Mexican War, 1846-1848

The Training Ground: Grant, Lee, Sherman, and Davis in the Mexican War, 1846-1848

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by Martin Dugard
     
 

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Few historical figures are as inextricably linked as Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee. But less than two decades before they faced each other as enemies at Appomattox, they had been brothers--both West Point graduates, both wearing blue, and both fighting in the same cadre in the Mexican War. They were not alone: Sherman, Davis, Jackson-nearly all of the Civil War's

Overview

Few historical figures are as inextricably linked as Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee. But less than two decades before they faced each other as enemies at Appomattox, they had been brothers--both West Point graduates, both wearing blue, and both fighting in the same cadre in the Mexican War. They were not alone: Sherman, Davis, Jackson-nearly all of the Civil War's greatest soldiers had been forged in the heat of Vera Cruz and Monterrey.
The Mexican War has faded from our national memory, but it was a struggle of enormous significance: the first U.S. war waged on foreign soil; and it nearly doubled our nation. At this fascinating juncture of American history, a group of young men came together to fight as friends, only years later to fight as enemies. This is their story. Full of dramatic battles, daring rescues, secret missions, soaring triumphs and tragic losses, THE TRAINING GROUND is history at its finest.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Dugard (The Last Voyage of Columbus) offers a fast-paced, colloquially written account of the Mexican War of 1848, constructed around the experiences of the U.S. Army's corps of junior officers. Shaped by the common experience of West Point and tempered by battle, these comrades in arms (including Lee, Grant, Davis and Sherman) matured into the leading generals and statesmen on both sides of the Civil War. Dugard introduces others as well, from Union artilleryman Henry Hunt to Confederate icon Stonewall Jackson, who also learned their craft fighting the Mexicans. At the war's end, commanding general Winfield Scott saluted West Point's graduates as the key to America's victory over Mexico. The image of a band of brothers transformed into enemies by conscience and politics is a familiar trope of the Civil War, but Dugard's spirited narrative animates a group of men whose force of character, professional skill and ability to think outside conventional limits revitalized the sclerotic army. Readers will conclude this book with reinforced awareness of why the Civil War was so long and so bitterly fought: because, as Dugard shows, the contending armies were shaped and led by a remarkably capable-and experienced-body of officers. (May)

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Library Journal

In his newest work, New York Times best-selling author Dugard (The Last Voyage of Columbus: America's Continental Dream and the Mexican War, 1846-1848) gives a straightforward account of the Mexican War, but with a twist. He lets us see the war through the eyes of several young officers-primarily Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee but also George G. Meade, William T. Sherman, Jefferson Davis, Stonewall Jackson, and others-who would rise to prominence during the Civil War. While Dugard does sketch in the big picture so that the reader is able to understand the course of the Mexican War, his purpose is to provide a richly detailed account of the battles, secret missions, and daring rescues and thus to show how participation in the Mexican War prepared these junior officers for the roles they would later play in the Civil War. Academic libraries will prefer Joseph Wheelan's Invading Mexico, Timothy J. Henderson's A Glorious Defeat, and John C. Pinheiro's Manifest Ambition. This less scholarly book will appeal to lay readers and Civil War buffs and is recommended for all public libraries.
—Stephen H. Peters

Kirkus Reviews
Dugard (Chasing Lance: The 2005 Tour de France and Lance Armstrong's Ride of a Lifetime, 2005, etc.) offers an admiring, blow-by-blow account of one of the most shameful wars of aggression in American history. The tight-knit West Point "brotherhood" who served during the Mexican War-which included the illustrious names Grant, Lee, Jackson, Davis, Bragg, Beauregard, Sherman, Pickett, Burnside, Longstreet and Hooker-would meet again in more dire, momentous circumstances during the Civil War. Dugard works backward from Appomattox, 1865-when generals Lee and Grant recognized each other from their stint in Mexico some 18 years before-and follows their dissimilar early military careers from West Point. Lee, an exemplary student who graduated second in his class of 1829, was the gentleman son of the famous Revolutionary War hero. Grant, who graduated in 1843, was a scrappy kid from Ohio who didn't excel in much but horsemanship. (Pickett, in contrast, was the class "goat," graduating last in his class.) The cadets cut their teeth during the Mexican-American conflict, after the Alamo had fallen in 1836, martyring the Texian rebels, who had provoked Mexico into challenging their desire for independence and annexation by the United States. The country was ripe for expansion (Manifest Destiny), and annexation of California and Texas from Mexico, as well as Oregon from Britain, was the game plan for many politicians, led by James K. Polk. General Zachary Taylor commanded the American army marching on Texas, and with him quartermaster Grant, whose letters to his sweetheart Julia Dent back in St. Louis, along with extracts from his later memoirs, help frame the subsequent incursions into Mexico, fromFort Texas and Monterrey to Veracruz and Mexico City. Dugard alternates this narrative with glimpses of Lee's dogged engineering work under General Winfield Scott, and Mississippi Congressman Jefferson Davis's eager volunteer action. Though the Mexican point-of-view receives scant consideration, the book is action-packed and peopled by intriguing characters.
American History

“Canny in its depictions of intriguing, powerful personalities and Machiavellian politics, meticulous in its textured battlefield and logistical descriptions, The Training Ground has the fast-paced feel of a good historical novel, but it’s all well-researched fact.”—American History
NYMAS Review

"The Training Ground is an interesting, often insightful account of the experiences of U.S. Grant, Robert E. Lee, William T. Sherman and Jefferson Davis during the Mexican War. . . . Worth a read for anyone interested in the Civil War and the development of senior military leadership."—A. A. Nofi, NYMAS Review

— A. A. Nofi

Denver Westerners Roundup

"This book gives an interesting sidelight on the Mexican War and a foretaste of the American Civil War."—Stan Moore, Denver Westerners Roundup

— Stan Moore

NYMAS Review - A. A. Nofi

"The Training Ground is an interesting, often insightful account of the experiences of U.S. Grant, Robert E. Lee, William T. Sherman and Jefferson Davis during the Mexican War. . . . Worth a read for anyone interested in the Civil War and the development of senior military leadership."—A. A. Nofi, NYMAS Review
Denver Westerners Roundup - Stan Moore

"This book gives an interesting sidelight on the Mexican War and a foretaste of the American Civil War."—Stan Moore, Denver Westerners Roundup

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780316032537
Publisher:
Little, Brown and Company
Publication date:
06/16/2008
Sold by:
Hachette Digital, Inc.
Format:
NOOK Book
Sales rank:
190,996
File size:
791 KB

Meet the Author

Martin Dugard is the New York Times bestselling author of such nonfiction titles as Chasing Lance, The Last Voyage of Columbus, Farther Than Any Man, Knockdown, and Into Africa. He has written for Esquire, Outside, Sports Illustrated, and GQ. Dugard lives in Orange County, California, with his wife and three sons.

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The Training Ground 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
C_S_Glass More than 1 year ago
When your friends cannot understand how reading a history book could possibly be interesting, this is what you give them. Don't even let them complain that it's about war. Marvelously written as if it was a riveting novel, The Training Ground gives a count-by-count rehash of the battles of the Mexican-American war along with excellent insights into the main "characters". Dougard uses short chapters to keep the book moving while sparing no detail in the glory and the greusomeness of war- even the descriptions of operations on injured soldiers are captivating. Yes, as a read, it's that good. For those acquainted with the Civil War, it's even better- personal stories of Grant, Davis, Longstreet, Lee, and more peak the curiosity as they were all fighting for and with each other, proving themselves to themselves and others, totally unknowing of what was to come fifteen years later. Anyone who likes the Civil War must read this because that conflict is totally and completely unimaginable had the leaders and soldiers not experienced the Mexican "training ground". What a different country this would be today; all of these men were in a "military lull" that they expected to never end, but this war prepared them for the fight of a lifetime in the future. [A note I must mention- this book was not about Lincoln, but two things as printed were incorrect. 1) He was elected President in 1860, not 1859; 2) He lived in Indiana between his youth in Kentucky and adulthood in Illinois, as opposed to moving straight from KY to IL. I don't know how these things were not corrected before publishing, but they do not take away anything.]
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Grr. I specifically said it wasn't forever. SPECIFICALLY SAID. Look at his last post at "prism" first result. He's fooling himself if he thinks he'll get either Prism OR Seven at this rate. Hmf.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"Hello." Meows a silver she with wings and right eye is azure, left is brown. "My clan, Treeclan, died...so i never finished training. Can i get some training here?"
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A soft orange tabby she cat wiith bright gren eyes padded in. "Hello. I wish to learn to the ways f a warrior. Is this t rght place?"
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is where the pups train. The assessment place is in assessment third result.