The convictions and controversial actions of a man reviled in the Confederacy and never fully appreciated in the Union
Lincoln's Abolitionist General tells the life story of a general who operated on the vanguard of the advance toward emancipation and the enlistment of African American soldiers. Though not nearly as well known as other senior Union generals, David Hunter participated in signal events of Lincoln's presidency and the Civil War, and he took advantage of his position to champion the rights of African Americans. Edward A. Miller, Jr.'s comprehensive examination of Hunter's life looks closely at his rare stance as abolitionist officer, his friendship with Lincoln, and his early advocacy of the "hard war" policies for which William Tecumseh Sherman later became famous.
Though Hunter was significantly more radical in his abolitionist sentiments than Lincoln, the two developed a friendship that lasted until Lincoln's death. Miller details the evolution of that relationship and tells of their mutual respect, which prompted Lincoln to appoint Hunter as his escort during his inaugural trip to Washington and as the chief guard of the White House.
Dealing extensively with Hunter's Civil War experience, Miller recounts the general's wounding at Bull Run and leadership of the Department of the South at Hilton Head Island, where he issued an order to free the slaves and attempted to enlist the first African American Union soldiers. Miller also sheds light on Hunter's command of the Shenandoah Valley, his seemingly vindictive treatment of rebel sympathizers, and his puzzling retreat in the Shenandoah campaign of 1864.
Edward A. Miller, Jr., is author of Gullah Statesman: Robert Smalls from Slavery to Congress, 1839—1915. He taught military, modern Far East, and American history at the Air Force Academy, directed a Washington policy study organization, and held political appointments on Capitol Hill and at the Pentagon.