Major General William S. Rosecrans (1819–1898) was one of the most fascinating and tragic figures of the Civil War. In September 1863 President Lincoln and Congress considered him the most able general on the Union side, but only one month later “Old Rosy” was removed from his command and then quickly forgotten. With The Edge of Glory, William M. Lamers returns this imposing, colorful figure to his rightful place in history.
Lamers examines Rosecrans’s experiences at Iuka and Corinth during the Mississippi campaign, the strategic brilliance that led to the withdrawal of Bragg’s men from Tullahoma and Shelbyville, and his role as commander of the Army of the Cumberland in the Tennessee battles of Stone’s River and the disastrous Chickamauga. Yet the demise of Rosecrans’s distinguished military career, Lamers illustrates, was not a result of his humiliating defeat at Chickamauga but of his difficult, uncompromising personality and the scorn he aroused in many of his superiors, including General Ulysses S. Grant and Edwin Stanton, Lincoln’s secretary of war. Although Rosecrans fell short of greatness as a military commander, Lamers deftly shows that he did indeed reach “the edge of glory.”