- Days of Glory: The Army of the Cumberland, 1861-1865
Larry Daniel fills one of the more conspicuous gaps in the historiography of the American Civil War with this first modern history of the Union Army of the Cumberland. And a worthy effort it is. Daniel's step-by-step narrative and analysis focuses on the strategic and political contexts of Civil War field command as filtered through the world views and personalities of the Army of the Cumberland's controversial commanders, and to some degree through the eyes of the troops they commanded. The analysis is a major contribution to the study of leadership in the Army of the Cumberland and it somewhat breaks the mold of most leadership studies by integrating data on and analysis of generalship as the various army commanders struggled with problems of strategic and tactical organization under changing conditions of warfare.
Historians and general students of the military history of the Civil War will expand their understanding of the army's commanders. The portrayals are masterful of the personalities of Don Carlos Buell and especially William [End Page 101] Rosecrans in the context of their relationships within the Army, with Washington, and within the fierce political combat that affected field command. But the biggest buzz likely to emerge around this book will concern Daniel's portrayal of George H. Thomas. A great strength of Daniel's analysis is his sense of process in the development in the Army of the Cumberland and its commanders, and he takes special care to develop the role of Thomas. Daniel ultimately sides with the revisionism of historians such as Richard McMurray, Albert Castel, and Thomas Buell in placing Thomas among the outstanding generals of the Civil War. But he is less sparing in his analysis of how Thomas got there. He argues convincingly that Thomas's leadership flaws outweighed his strengths until he finally matured in field command late in 1863.
While the author develops his lengthy study in great detail and writes close to his wealth of sources, he manages to sustain a brisk and highly readable narrative. The story entertains while it informs. This book is a must for military historians of the Civil War and is to be highly recommended to all who share the enthusiasm for Civil War military history.