Martin Dugard, Little, Brown & Co., $29.99, Hardcover.
Martin Dugard, Little, Brown & Co., $29.99, Hardcover.

Although the subtitle of Martin Dugard’s excellent book is “Grant, Lee, Sherman and Davis in the Mexican War, 1846-48” and the author protests that his volume is not a history of the Mexican War, it is actually a very good survey of the two major campaigns of that war and how it trained soldiers for the Civil War. The real heroes of the Mexican War were Gens. Zachary Taylor in the north and Winfield Scott in the south of Mexico. But Scott was too old for combat in the Civil War, and Taylor was dead. So it fell to their subordinate officers of 1846-47 to excel in 1861-65:?U.S. Grant, a quartermaster, Robert E. Lee, a scout and William Tecumseh Sherman, who was “buried” in far-off California. The surprise of Dugard’s group is Jefferson Davis, vilified and demonized later as the Confederate President; he ended up acting the most heroic of the officers who first saw action in Mexico. Dugard also follows other young officers of later Civil War fame:?Stonewall Jackson, Gettysburg’s George Meade, Braxton Bragg and James Longstreet. Some of the great bonus material includes information on Army infighting, the jealousy of Whigs and Democrats, and the rivalry of Regulars (especially West Pointers) versus Volunteers.

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