Courage Above All Things
General John Ellis Wool and the U.S. Military, 1812–1863
Published by: University of Oklahoma Press
Imprint: University of Oklahoma Press
544 Pages | 6 x 9 | 26 b&w illus., 4 maps
For a half century, John Ellis Wool (1784–1869) was one of America’s most illustrious figures—most notably as an officer in the United States Army during the War of 1812, the Mexican-American War, and the Civil War. At the onset of the Civil War, when he assumed command of the Department of the East, Wool had been a brigadier general for twenty years and, at age seventy-seven, was the oldest general on either side of the conflict. Courage Above All Things marks the first full biography of Wool, who aside from his unparalleled military service, figured prominently in many critical moments in nineteenth-century U.S. history.
At the time of his death in 2016, Harwood Hinton, a scholar with an encyclopedic knowledge of western history, had devoted fifty years to this monumental work, which has been completed and edited by the distinguished historian Jerry Thompson. This deeply researched and deftly written volume incorporates the latest scholarship to offer a clear and detailed account of John Ellis Wool’s extraordinary life—his character, his life experiences, and his career, in wartime and during uneasy periods of relative peace. Hinton and Thompson provide a thorough account of all chapters in Wool’s life, including three major wars, the Cherokee Removal, and battles with Native Americans on the West Coast.
From his distinguished participation in the War of 1812 to his controversial service on the Pacific coast during the 1850s, and from his mixed success during the Peninsula Campaign to his overseeing of efforts to quell the New York City draft riots of 1863, John Ellis Wool emerges here as a crucial character in the story of nineteenth-century America—complex, contradictory, larger than life—finally fully realized for the first time.
“Courage Above All Things offers a detailed biography of General Wool, a zealous and dedicated Army Regular, highlighting his fascinating yet underappreciated supporting roles in numerous critical episodes throughout nineteenth-century U.S. history.”—Southwestern Historical Quarterly
“Harwood P. Hinton spent 50 years of research on the life of John Ellis Wool, the Civil War’s oldest general. When Hinton died, his work was continued and finally edited by fellow historian Jerry Thompson. Courage Above All Things is a meticulously researched biography that stands up on its factual merits. Enthusiasts of the formative years of American military power should find it extremely interesting.”—Civil War Times Magazine
“Although he is barely remembered today, in a military career of more than fifty years of active duty, John Ellis Wool developed a reputation as a U.S. Army troubleshooter who had a knack for being at important places when significant events were taking place. The late acclaimed historian Harwood P. Hinton labored for decades on this Wool biography, and it was completed, edited, and published by another distinguished historian/author, Jerry D. Thompson… Hinton/Thompson have presented the life of an important American officer in stunning detail. This book is likely to be the definitive biography of a dedicated but long-forgotten soldier."—Journal of America's Military Past