Yankee Warhorse: A Biography of Major General Peter J. Osterhaus / Edition 3

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A German-born Union officer in the American Civil War, Maj. Gen. Peter Osterhaus served from the first clash in the western theater until the final surrender of the war. Osterhaus made a name for himself within the army as an energetic and resourceful commander who led his men from the front. He was one of the last surviving Union major general and military governor of Mississippi in the early days of Reconstruction.

This first full-length study of the officer documents how, despite his meteoric military career, his accomplishments were underreported even in his own day and often misrepresented in the historical record. Mary Bobbitt Townsend corrects previous errors about his life and offers new insights into his contributions to major turning points in the war at Vicksburg, Chattanooga, and Atlanta, as well as other battles.

Townsend draws on battle reports not found in the Official Records, on personal papers, and on other nonpublished material to examine Osterhaus’s part in the major battles in the West as well as in minor engagements. She tells how he came into his own in the Vicksburg campaign and proved himself through skill with artillery, expertise in intelligence gathering, and taking the lead in hostile territory—blazing the trail down the west side of the river for the entire Union army and then covering Grant’s back for a month during the siege. At Chattanooga, Osterhaus helped Joe Hooker strategize the rout at Lookout Mountain; at Atlanta, he led the Fifteenth Corps, the largest of the four corps making Sherman's March to the Sea. Townsend also documents his contributions in the battles of Wilson's Creek, Pea Ridge, Arkansas Post, Port Gibson, Ringgold Gap, and Resaca and shows that he played a crucial role in Canby’s Mobile Bay operations at the end of the war.

In addition to reporting Osterhaus’s wartime experiences, Townsend describes his experiences as a leader in the 1848-1849 Rebellion in his native Germany, his frustration during his term as Mississippi’s governor, and his stint as U.S. consul to France during the Franco-Prussian War.

Osterhaus stood out from other volunteer officers in his understanding of tactics and logistics, even though his careful field preparation led to criticism by historians that he was unduly cautious in battle. Yankee Warhorse sets the record straight on this important Civil War general as it opens a new window on the war in the West.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"An invaluable study of one of Missouri's key Civil War generals. Townsend has done an excellent job of combining personal anecdotes and military action."—William E. Parrish, author of A History of Missouri: Volume III, 1860 to 1875
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780826218759
  • Publisher: University of Missouri Press
  • Publication date: 3/24/2010
  • Series: SHADES OF BLUE & GRAY Series
  • Edition description: 1st Edition
  • Edition number: 3
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 1,210,671
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.50 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Mary Bobbitt Townsend, great-great-granddaughter of Peter Joseph Osterhaus, is an independent scholar living in Southern California.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 18, 2010

    Highly Recommended; Five Stars


    A Biography of Major General Peter Joseph Osterhaus written by his
    great-great granddaughter, Mary Bobbitt Townsend, is an authentic account of the German
    born soldier who immigrated to the United States and became a US citizen six years before
    the Rebels fired on Fort Sumpter. Joining the Union army in Missouri at age 37, Osterhaus
    was ranked from private to the Major General of Volunteers in one battle torn year.

    Yankee Warhorse gives Osterhaus the recognition he so richly deserves. Well
    researched with intimate details of the Battle of Pea Ridge, Vicksburg and Atlanta
    campaigns, to name a few, will please any Civil War buff. A hero to the men he led through
    deplorable conditions such as intense heat, torrents of rain and mud with no blankets or
    tents and very little food. Osterhaus had expectations and respect for his men, and they
    in turn followed him without complaint. Fighting diarrhea and dysentery, he stayed with
    his men, but finally was forced to leave and returned home for a short period of time to

    The personal accounts of his life are told with love and candor. A husband and
    father, he lost his first child and later his wife. Writing to his wife's younger sister
    and enlisting her help with the children, she agreed to come from Germany and later they

    Major General Osterhaus served from the first clash in the west until the
    final surrender of the war. One of the last surviving Union Major Generals he was
    military governor of Mississippi in the early days of reconstruction.

    Active in community affairs, Osterhaus died in Germany of pneumonia a few days
    before his 94th birthday. A few mementoes of Peter Joseph can be found - a bust erected
    in 1913 on the Vicksburg Battlefield and state markers in Georgia and Tennessee.

    It's a must read if you're into the history of the Civil War.

    Birdie Etchison

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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