Reading Guide for Teacher of Civil War Generals

1. Is General Smith the tough disciplinarian that historians have portrayed him?
2. When did Smith become disenchanted about the United States Army?
3. One of the issues in the biography is the persistent interference of the US President in military operations. What is the appropriate role of the nation’s chief executive in war?
4. During the Civil War, Smith doesn’t seem to be conflicted in labeling his old friends as rebels and enemies.  How would you account for his easy transition?
5. What is your opinion of Major General Henry Halleck?
6. If Smith had lived, would he have eclipsed Grant in the US Army hierarchy?
7. What characteristics did Smith impart to U. S. Grant that made Grant honor, respect, and love him?
8. Like many Union officers, Smith was not an abolitionist. Describe his attitude toward African Americans.
9. Do you think that the Mormon Expedition was necessary to restore Federal control in the Utah Territory?
10. How would characterize Smith’s relationship with his daughter?
11. Was the incident at the Tilghman House in Paducah properly handled by Federal authorities?
12. For the person who chose this book: What made you want to read it? What made you suggest it to the group for discussion? Did it live up to your expectations? Why or why not? Are you sorry/glad that you suggested it to the group (ask again after the discussion)?
13. What were some of the major themes of the book? Are they relevant in your life? Did the author effectively develop these themes? If so, how? If not, why not? Was there redemption in the book? For any of the characters? Is this important to you when reading a book? Did you think the story was funny, sad, touching, disturbing, moving? Why or why not?
14. How does this book compare to other biographies that your group has read? Is it similar to any of them? Did you like it more or less than other books you’ve read? What do you think will be your lasting impression of the book? What will be your most vivid memories of it a year from now?  Will it just leave a vague impression, and what will that be? Or will you not think of it at all in a year’s time?
15. What else struck you about the book as good or bad? What did you like or dislike about it that hasn’t been already discussed? Were you glad you read this book? Would you recommend it to a friend? Did this book make you want to read more work by this author?

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