A black and white image of the general standing in uniform    On August 19, 1861 Henry Wagner Halleck was promoted to Major General in the United States Army, a rank he already held in the California Militia, and sent to command the Army of Missouri.  More of a scholar than a leader, Halleck was sent to clean up the mess of corruption and local vigilante groups left behind when his predecessor was removed.  Most of the Union officers in charge of various commands out west were not very aggressive.  They didn’t like to leave their cosy houses to go to battle and Halleck lacked the forcefulness needed to motivate them.  Although he reorganized the ranks and removed the corruption, the western front of the American Civil War was rather quiet with one exception: Grant.  A Brigadier General, Grant was in charge of one of the armies under Halleck.  Halleck quickly realized that Grant was the type to get promoted fast and set out to slow down Grant’s career.  Meanwhile Halleck’s administrative skills and military book smarts kept the Confederates from advancing in his command.  Grant’s surprise victory at Shiloh was attributed to General Halleck.  Grant won the battle but was at a political low point due to the amount of casualties so General Halleck took the opportunity to remove Grant from command and give him charge of the administration of Halleck’s army, which Grant viewed as a punishment.  While Grant kept the army supplied, Halleck took field command of his army for the first time and set out after the Confederates retreating from Shiloh (as had been planned before the surprise attack on Shiloh).  Halleck moved a little more each day before setting up camp for the night and having the men dig trenches to protect each new camp.  The Army moved so slow that the Confederates had given up on Corinth, Mississippi before the main part of the Halleck’s army arrived to start a proper siege.
On July 11, 1862 General Halleck was summoned to Washington, DC to be the next General-In-Chief of the Union Army.  However, the War Council that had taken over for General McClellan five months earlier was still making most of the decisions of the war.  More of a military adviser to the war council than the leader, General Halleck’s main job was to supply the Army and motivate his subordinate generals, who were in positions of rank more from popularity and winning battles than from being willing to work together or to obey orders.  It was common for Halleck to give an order and the lower generals to obey at their own leisure or to ignore the command all together.  Bickering between the generals, all with grand plans of their own of how to win the war, caused rifts that Halleck, more a politician and scholar than a military leader, could not fully control.  When it became obvious to the War Council that Halleck didn’t have an aggressive enough personality to control his generals, General Grant was summoned to Washington.
According to Grant’s orders, Halleck had resigned as General-In-Chief for personal reasons and would be the brand new job position of Chief of Staff for the Army.  Basically Grant was now in charge of the commanding of the troops and most of the decisions of the command while Halleck remained in Washington to supply the troops and act as the political function of the Army.  He was the voice that all the politicians went to understand soldiers and their needs while the generals sent him requests to work out in Washington.  The last year of the war went rather smoothly with the supplies usually getting where they were needed on time while President Lincoln and General Grant had a very good understanding of what each other wanted, thanks to General Halleck translating for them.  Because Halleck agreed with the decision to do total war on the South in the last years of the war and supplied the generals in that cause, he is one of the four generals that are considered the fathers of modern warfare.
After the war Halleck was sent to Richmond to start repairing the South with his amazing administrative and organizational skills.  He was a pallbearer at Lincoln’s funeral shortly after the war.  His lack of sympathy to the Southerners, especially the veterans, got to be a problem and he was sent out to California, basically exiled for a time from the recovery efforts.  While there he helped explore the new territory bought from Russia and is one of two men credited with naming it “Alaska”.  In 1869 he was recalled from California and put in charge of the Military Division of the South out of Louisville, Kentucky.  He died there in and was buried in New York.  He is remembered in California with a statue in Golden Gate Bridge but he never published a memoir.  He was fond of writing what he learned in his early days and he realized early the need to protect public documents in California.  However, he never published a memoir, as so many of his fellow generals did after the war, and he seemed to have burned all his correspondence.  There is no known diary nor letters to tell how he felt about working so closely with the President for so many years nor how he felt about going from General-in-Chief to Chief of Staff.  Oddly enough we know little of his feelings throughout both wars because he wished no one to know after he died or just didn’t like the clutter of keeping the letters most of his fellow generals and their families were so fond of keeping.

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