From Antietam to Chancellorsville: September 1862 to May 1863

Battles For the West

What was General Rosecrans like as a military leader?

No general—North or South—cared more about his men. No military leader—Union or Confederate—was so devoted to his faith (Roman Catholicism). He was the only commanding general on either side to have a priest with him at all times, so that he need never miss the Mass.

Born in Ohio in 1819, Rosecrans was a self-made man whose graduation from West Point, in 1842, was the launch of his career. He taught at West Point for a time, but resigned from the U.S. Regular Army in 1854 in order to begin a business career. He now had eight children to support. He rose quickly after the war began and at the end of October 1862 was made commander of the Army of the Ohio, which he quickly renamed the Army of the Cumberland. More than merely designating its name, Rosecrans brought a new, vigorous spirit to that force: he was an expert in supply and logistics, and the men were well prepared when the storm burst upon them on the last day of 1862.


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