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Civil War Dynasty

Civil War Dynasty: The Ewing Family of Ohio

Kenneth J. Heineman
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: NYU Press
Pages: 395
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  • Book Info
    Civil War Dynasty
    Book Description:

    For years the Ewing family of Ohio has been lost in the historical shadow cast by their in-law, General William T. Sherman. In the era of the Civil War, it was the Ewing family who raised Sherman, got him into West Point, and provided him with the financial resources and political connections to succeed in war. The patriarch, Thomas Ewing, counseled presidents and clashed with radical abolitionists and southern secessionists leading to the Civil War. Three Ewing sons became Union generals, served with distinction at Antietam and Vicksburg, marched through Georgia, and fought guerillas in Missouri. The Ewing family stood at the center of the Northern debate over emancipation, fought for the soul of the Republican Party, and waged total war against the South.In Civil War Dynasty, Kenneth J. Heineman brings to life this drama of political intrigue and military valor - warts and all. This work is a military, political, religious, and family history, told against the backdrop of disunion, war, violence, and grief.

    eISBN: 978-0-8147-9070-0
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-16)

    Ellen Ewing Sherman had seen her share of death. At William Tecumseh Sherman’s encampment near Vicksburg, Mississippi, she had toured abandoned entrenchments laden with blood. It was during Ellen’s visit with her husband in the summer of 1863 that their son Willie had fallen sick. He died before Ellen could reach her parents in Lancaster, Ohio. That same fall, Ellen’s mother, Maria Boyle Ewing, entered the final stages of a terminal illness. Her father, Thomas Ewing, had already suffered a series of heart attacks since the beginning of the war.¹

    If the deaths of Maria and Willie had shaken Ellen...

  5. 1 “The Devoted Band of Leonidas” Thomas Ewing’s Ascent
    (pp. 17-55)

    Near an Irish river called the Boyne in 1690 the fate of English parliamentary rule, as well as the future of Ireland’s Protestant colony, hung in the balance as two armies closed for battle. On one side stood the Dutchman William of Orange, representing England’s parliament and the Scottish Presbyterians who had settled in Ulster province. Against William III loomed the ousted English King James II, backed by French troops and Irish Catholics—the latter determined to punish the Protestants who had “stolen” their lands. At battle’s end James II fled the field, pursued by troops whose ranks included Captain...

  6. 2 “Reaching Up into the Blue Ether . . . Sinking Down into the Abyss”: The Next Generation Comes of Age
    (pp. 56-96)

    If Henry Clay viewed the Lancaster home of Thomas and Maria Ewing as a hospitable locale for political scheming, then children trekked up Main Hill in expectation of adventure. In addition to the Ewing’s six surviving children, two girls and a boy belonging to Thomas Ewing’s sister, Sarah Clark, lived in the Main Hill mansion. While Cousin Hampton “Hamp” Denman did not live with the Ewings, he might as well have given how often he was there. (Hamp was the son of Maria’s sister, Susan, who had married a successful merchant originally from Pennsylvania.) Charles Sherman’s large brood, who resided...

  7. 3 “Argument Is Exhausted”: An Election, an Insurrection, and an Invasion, 1860–61
    (pp. 97-136)

    Tom Ewing’s finances were in wretched shape at the beginning of 1860. He owed nearly $73,000 to one New York creditor and lesser amounts to others. The long drought had driven off thousands of settlers, making Kansas real estate speculation a futile exercise. Indeed, Tom lamented, “There is in fact no market for property at any price whatever.” Worse, the unsettled political situation, both in Kansas and nationally, delayed rail construction. Tom informed his Washington business representative that he had little expectation of Congress moving forward with transportation projects for the West.¹

    Cump’s and Hugh’s departure from Kansas had left...

  8. 4 “Render to Caesar”: Shiloh, Antietam, and Prairie Grove, 1862
    (pp. 137-174)

    The Ewings had waged a no-holds-barred campaign to salvage Cump’s military career. Whatever small prospect they might have had for warmer relations with President Lincoln was considerably diminished as a result. Thomas Ewing and Lincoln had found it difficult to interact with each other on a comfortable footing even before the “Kentucky Affair.” Now the estrangement between Cump’s kin and Lincoln had worsened. Senator John Sherman so openly disdained Lincoln that the president commented on it to visitors.¹

    For her part, Ellen had been upset with Lincoln when he initially ignored her pleas. “As malice cannot prevail, where justice rules,”...

  9. 5 “Forlorn Hope”: Vicksburg, Lawrence, and Missionary Ridge, 1863
    (pp. 175-212)

    Years earlier Hugh Ewing had walked the streets of Vicksburg, Mississippi. He had been unmolested—and unimpressed. Now, as the new year of 1863 approached, the port had become a navigation chokepoint on the Mississippi River. Vicksburg was also a militarily vital transfer point between rail lines headed east and west. Dense forests, alligator-infested swamps, and an extensive chain of high bluffs transformed sleepy Vicksburg into a seemingly impenetrable bastion. By October 1862, General Ulysses Grant had thousands of troops poised to assault Vicksburg. Although his forces outnumbered Confederate troops in Mississippi, Grant was stymied. Logistical support was a particular...

  10. 6 “War Is Cruelty”: Atlanta, Pilot Knob, and Washington, 1864
    (pp. 213-248)

    As December 1863 slipped into the New Year, Cump had regained his footing. The fact that he and Grant had nearly destroyed their reputations—along with Hugh’s Fourth Division—at Missionary Ridge may have shocked Cump out of his doldrums. He also had more time to grieve and then come to accept the loss of Willie as something beyond his control. When it came to religious matters, Cump’s God had a capricious, vengeful side—unlike Ellen’s wise, loving God whose Divine Plan was beyond her comprehension. Further lifting Cump’s spirits was the fact that he had received his own army...

  11. 7 “Stand on the Crater of a Living Volcano”: Processions, Trials, and Recriminations
    (pp. 249-282)

    Few soldiers in Cump’s army could complain about the hardships they endured while occupying Savannah. The city boasted gracious architecture and bore no resemblance to the dismal settlements they had seen in north Georgia. Admittedly, it took the sons of the Old Northwest some effort to get used to eating rice. Most of Cump’s troops, however, dove into the seafood. For the natives of Ohio and Indiana, saltwater oysters were a once-in-a-lifetime treat. Meanwhile, Charley continued his explorations of the area, though he failed to loosen up the censorious Major Henry Hitchcock. Charley’s friend and fellow staff officer Major George...

  12. Postscript
    (pp. 283-290)

    In the years following Hugh Ewing’s death, Ohio, the Old Northwest, and the nation underwent a dramatic economic transformation. Railroads replaced the canals Thomas Ewing had helped to build. Each new mode of transportation, from wagon to canal boat and locomotive to automobile, was simply layered over the same narrow route through the Hocking Valley. Just a few remnants of the past poked through the brush; a crumbling canal lock here, a deeply wagon-rutted stretch of Zane’s Trace there. Otherwise the infrastructure of the pre-Civil War era was all but gone.

    Oak forests gave way to coal mines. Eventually, evenexistence...

  13. NOTES
    (pp. 291-354)
  14. INDEX
    (pp. 355-384)
  15. About the Author
    (pp. 385-385)