A thorough, revealing history of an important political and military family from Ohio during the Civil War.
Rising from an impoverished family, Thomas Ewing Sr. (1789–1871) became a man of wealth and connections, a lawyer, a senator, a wise international political mind (he counseled Lincoln not to antagonize Britain as the Civil War loomed), a real estate developer and secretary of the Treasury and Interior. In a state riven by the debate over abolition, he took a middle road in hopes of saving the Union. He finally hewed to the North, as did his sons, all of whom became key military figures and one a chief justice. The family was certainly a dynasty, and Heineman (History/Angelo State Univ.; Put Your Bodies Upon the Wheels: Student Revolt in the 1960s, 2001, etc.) examines it with a low-key, intimate touch, graceful but unvarnished and with a nose for honesty. The author ably captures this momentous time in American history, drawing the big picture with a practiced ease, particularly the military activities on the battlefield and the political maneuvering on the slavery question in the territories and in Washington. He also handles the more personal details related to Ewing and his children. His daughter married William Tecumseh Sherman (who was Ewing’s foster child, and whom he groomed to generalhood); his son Hugh was a free spirit (not to mention a general) who saved Sherman from charges of insanity; Charles was another war hero (and another general); and Thomas Jr. was yet another general, though he was besmirched by an early episode of ethnic cleansing (forced removal) of Southerners from Missouri.
As warm and enticing as an oral history, with lots more footnotes.