We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

Yankee Warhorse

A Biography of Major General Peter Osterhaus

Mary Bobbit Townsend

Publication Year: 2010

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.

Published by: University of Missouri Press


pdf iconDownload PDF (808.5 KB)
pp. 1-3

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

pdf iconDownload PDF (72.5 KB)
pp. 4-7


pdf iconDownload PDF (35.6 KB)
pp. vii-viii

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (52.3 KB)
pp. ix-xii

Peter J. Osterhaus has long deserved more attention from historians and students of the Civil War than he has received. He was, in many ways, the best example of disinterested ethnic patriotism in the conflict. An important division commander in the Army of the Tennessee, especially during the Vicksburg and Chattanooga campaigns, Osterhaus contributed greatly to many...


pdf iconDownload PDF (52.4 KB)
pp. xiii-xvi

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (62.8 KB)
pp. 1-6

Peter Joseph Osterhaus, major general of Volunteers for the Union army in the American Civil War, rightly referred to himself as “an utterly unknown person—homo novus.” This remains true today, despite the fact that Osterhaus, an exiled leader from the 1848 rebellion in Germany, enjoyed a meteoric military career in America. Working as an accounting clerk in St. Louis...

read more

Chapter 1: Before the War

pdf iconDownload PDF (128.3 KB)
pp. 7-29

Peter Joseph Osterhaus, later so adept a military leader, was born into a decidedly unmilitary family in Rhine Province, a new province created and awarded to the kingdom of Prussia in 1815 after the defeat of Napoléon. His father, Josef Adolf Oisterhusz, was a self-made, prosperous contractor in the city of Koblenz. Oisterhusz and his wife, Eleanora Kraemer, a local butcher’s...

read more

Chapter 2: The Trans-Mississippi Campaignsof 1861 and 1862

pdf iconDownload PDF (358.6 KB)
pp. 30-67

Ready or not, Maj. Joseph Osterhaus and his rifle battalion left St. Louis on their first campaign on June 13. His men were clad in multicolored uniforms made or donated by various civilian volunteer groups; there were not enough shoes, blankets, or tents to go around. But at least the men of the Second Missouri began their first campaign in relative comfort, traveling the...

read more

Chapter 3: The Vicksburg Campaign

pdf iconDownload PDF (387.3 KB)
pp. 68-119

As Brig . Gen. Joseph Osterhaus languished in bed at home during the fall of 1862, the Union effort faltered. Toward the end of the year, Osterhaus read with dismay that the Union troops had suffered severe losses in the East, most recently at Fredericksburg, and the war effort had stalled in the West. But he was encouraged to read about the latest Federal effort now getting under...

read more

Chapter 4: The Chattanooga Campaign

pdf iconDownload PDF (186.9 KB)
pp. 120-144

When Osterhaus returned from leave on August 21, Grant sent him to the Big Black River to report to Fifteenth Corps commander William T. Sherman. However, the general’s next assignment was by no means assured: Sherman at that point had more generals than he had divisions, and two other generals outranked Osterhaus. Despite this, when Osterhaus asked for the...

read more

Chapter 5: The Atlanta Campaign and the March to the Sea

pdf iconDownload PDF (195.0 KB)
pp. 145-178

As soon as Brig. Gen. Peter Joseph Osterhaus had ordered a salute fired to the new year of 1864, he left Camp Proclamation on a well-deserved month’s leave. He was headed not to St. Louis to see his motherless and scattered five children, at least not right away, but to New York City and Washington, D.C. On December 28 he had received word from Germany that his plea...

read more

Chapter 6: Mobile Bay and Reconstruction

pdf iconDownload PDF (124.6 KB)
pp. 179-200

Soon after the Federals marched into Savannah, Joseph Osterhaus learned of “Black Jack” Logan’s imminent return to the Fifteenth Corps and spoke with Army of the Tennessee commander Oliver O. Howard about his own next assignment. Osterhaus was an excellent division commander, but he was well aware that going back to his old First Division was problematic. At this...

read more

Epilogue: The Later Years

pdf iconDownload PDF (229.1 KB)
pp. 201-242

In the late summer of 1866, Joseph Osterhaus left Amalie and the children at her parents’ home in Kreuznach, Germany, until the twin boys’ birth in September. By the time his wife and now eight children had joined him in Lyon later that fall, Joseph had found them a spacious apartment. Now began the process of introducing their five very American children to the differences...


pdf iconDownload PDF (92.0 KB)
pp. 243-260


pdf iconDownload PDF (68.7 KB)
pp. 261-270

Back Cover

pdf iconDownload PDF (997.7 KB)
p. 288-288

E-ISBN-13: 9780826272157
E-ISBN-10: 0826272150
Print-ISBN-13: 9780826218759
Print-ISBN-10: 082621875X

Page Count: 288
Illustrations: 8 illus, 7 maps
Publication Year: 2010

Edition: 1