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The Class of 1846: From West Point to Appomattox: Stonewall Jackson, George McClellan, and Their Brothers
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The Class of 1846: From West Point to Appomattox: Stonewall Jackson, George McClellan, and Their Brothers

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  974 ratings  ·  40 reviews
No single group of men at West Point--or possibly any academy--has been so indelibly written into history as the class of 1846. The names are legendary: Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson, George B. McClellan, Ambrose Powell Hill, Darius Nash Couch, George Edward Pickett, Cadmus Marcellus Wilcox, and George Stoneman. The class fought in three wars, produced twenty generals, and le ...more
Paperback, 635 pages
Published June 1st 1999 by Ballantine Books (first published January 1st 1994)
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4.10  · 
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 ·  974 ratings  ·  40 reviews

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'Aussie Rick'

I found this book to be a very enjoyable book to read and if helped fill in a few spaces left about the great names of the Civil War before they became Generals. I have always enjoy reading accounts of the war with Mexico and seeing how the future enemies of the American Civil War fought together, saved each others lives on occassions and learnt the common lessons of war. This is a very interesting and well presented account although I found the battle scenes lacking in depth but I would suppose
Susanna - Censored by GoodReads
Focuses on the class as a whole through the first two parts (West Point and the war with Mexico), then a very scattered section on the 1850s.

After that, it's largely focused on "Stonewall" and "Little Mac." Jackson is stubborn as a mule and crazy like a fox. McClellan is arrogant (at fifteen even!), pompous, paranoid, and incapable of not seeing at least 2 Confederate soldiers behind every tree.

An entertaining read.
Jeff Dawson
Oct 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent look into the men and instructors at West Point Academy. The story gravitates around two of the school’s students: George McClennan and Thomas J. (Stonewall) Jackson.
McClennan was revered by all who knew him. He was the chosen one. Good looks, connections, money, prestige and physical prowess.

Jackson on the other hand was only admitted after a fellow Tennessean decided West Point wasn’t for him. This caused quite a stir and the Congressman Samuel L. Hays who nominated Gibso
This was a really good read. The author traces the careers of the 1846 class of West Point graduates, the most famous members being George McClellan and Stonewall Jackson. A. P. Hill and George Pickett were also in this class. The author includes a useful table at the beginning of the book listing all the members of the class (not all of whom graduated), the service in the Civil War with highest rank attained, and their fate. It's coincedental historical relationships like those described in thi ...more
Dan Porter
Jul 14, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: acw-east
An interesting and readable book, but the author is careless with some historical facts. That gave me pause to wonder if he was equally careless with biographical information.
Adam Balshan
Apr 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
4 stars [History]
Waugh follows the West Point class of 1846 through the Mexican War and War Between the States, focusing on members of the class. Waugh doesn't linger overlong on details like some large history books, but still has plenty of them--mundane to express the daily life, and peculiar to set the experience apart.

The quality of writing lessened somewhat around the section of the book concerning the Valley campaigns, but returned to its vigor upon the description of Antietam, particularl
An interesting book that seemed to focus on Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson more than the other famed officers of this class from Westpoint. Certainly not the best book I have read on any of the famed American Civil War Commanders; but, I have to admit the author pulled in personal information on Jackson that hasn't quite been touched by others before nor since. I came away from reading this book thinking the author was completing a requirement for his PhD and may have done so just barely; I don't ...more
Oct 18, 2008 rated it liked it
A good book for fans of the Civil War who want a little more background about the shared West Point and Mexican-American War experiences which shaped so many of the generals who would ultimately battle each other to the death. It convinced me more than ever that the Confederate Generals who forgot their oath to America and fought against it should never be celebrated by us and should, instead, be remembered as traitors.
David Bird
This is a very good book of its sort; unfortunately, its sort hasn’t aged very well. In the shadow of “fine people on both sides,” works premised on that assumption are harder to take either as history or entertainment. I had a dim memory of this book being praised when it came out 25 years ago, and so picked it up when I chanced upon a used copy.

The story of the Civil War told in the 1990s still presented it almost exclusively as a disagreement between white men over Federal power, with ‘broth
Michael Smith
Jan 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
If you have an interest in the Civil War, or in 19th-century U.S. military history generally, you already know that 1846 was a key year in a number of ways. It saw the start of the War with Mexico, which was the first flowering of American imperialism and the territorial drive to the Pacific Ocean. But more specifically, it was the year many of the military leaders of the Civil War, on both sides, graduated from the Military Academy at West Point. The Class of 1846 included Thomas J Jackson, Geo ...more
Erik Snell
Sep 14, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: home-bookshelf
This book had plenty of interesting tidbits and stories I hadn't known before. However in the end I don't think it lived up to quite what I was expecting. At the beginning as it covered the years at West Point in did a good job of comparing and contrasting the many different men from the class of 46. However then the book halfway transformed into a subpar dual biography of McClellan and Jackson. For much of the "Civil War" chapters most of the class established at the beginning was ignored. I be ...more
Aug 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Tracking the experiences and inter-relationships of the 50-odd graduates of West Point class of 1846 through the Mexican War, the Indian Wars and the Civil War is a big job which the author accomplished with a series of 10 to 20 page vignettes. Several of these stories are not particularly interesting unless you happen to be related to one of the cadets/officers involved. But even these stories reflect the diligent research undertaken by the author. I found the Mexican War and Civil War stories ...more
Bruce Switzer
Feb 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
I started reading this one several years ago and put it down after reading about 15%. I do not recall why I set it aside, but I am glad I decided to pick it up again. Great overlay of the characters from the class of 1846 with the sequence of wars in which they served. Really enjoyed the contrast between McClellan and Stonewall.
Nov 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Glory, glory hallelujah. I finished reading this huge book!
Enough of War.
Let us go peacefully into this cold night.

Happy New Year to all.
Great writing, great storytelling. I've read many books about the Civil War, and this is one of my favorites.
Feb 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history-read
This has been on my list for a long time and final got the chance to read it; not really what I expected but good none the less.

With a title "The Class of" I certainly expected a review of the class and their 4 years at West Point. Although the topic was covered including the environment, cadet backgrounds, friends and relationships made, it all to quickly moved into the "graduate" years of the Mexican War, pre-Civil War and finally the Civil War days. While maintaining the earlier friendships,
Oct 14, 2016 rated it it was ok
Good hook--following one class of West Point graduates through the Civil War, where many of them became generals. But, alas, terrible execution. The writing is, I don't know, "military history style." Often boring, never illuminating, in love with all things WAR. The author doesn't have a point, there's no theme, it's just a recounting, in very average writing, of "things that happened." Offers pretty much zero insight into any of the characters. What did they THINK about the war? About slavery? ...more
Janet Eshenroder
Jul 12, 2015 rated it liked it
This is a remarkable detailed book. The research was amazing, bringing us inside West Point, the Mexican Wars, the Indian Wars, and the lead-up to the Civil War, as if we were actually there and watching events unfold with our own eyes. Even the wives' tales are told in great detail, giving a complete picture of the ambitions and the lives of military officers.

A large portion of this book was back matter (references). Since I read this on Kindle and (based on the percentage of the book I had co
May 04, 2013 added it
Excellent book about the graduating class of 1846 from West Point and their endeavors in the Mexican, Indian and Civil Wars. Though classmates, comrades and enemies, they all served their country(ies) with bravery and honor. In the end, they came together in the sacred cords of brotherhood to honor, remember and memorialize their former days of glory. A major portion of the book focuses on General McClellan, who so much was expected...and so little battlefield glory was accomplished, and on Gene ...more
Feb 28, 2015 rated it liked it
I don't normally go in for narrative history. Joseph J. Ellis' "Founding Brothers" was a rare exception; this was not. Well, that's a bit harsh - it was an interesting read, and I genuinely felt I understood some of the figures in question (particularly Stonewall Jackson) a lot better after reading this book. But, ultimately, the narrative history got tedious, at least for me. For what it was, the book deserves at least a three-star rating, but my own experience of it barely ticks two stars. If ...more
May 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to John by: Christie Sheiry
Shelves: non-fiction
Very detailed and exceptionally well researched history of the West Point class of 1846. This class included Stonewall Jackson and 18 other men who ended up becoming Generals for both the Union and the Confederacy. This book, more than any other I have ever read, demonstrates how much of a tragedy the Civil War was for our country. BUT, it also gives you a true sense of how we were able to recover from such a devastating period of our history and go on the being the country we were during the 20 ...more
May 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
A history of the U.S. Army in the Mexican and Civil Wars told through the lens of the West Point Class of 1846, and also a double biography of Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson (who barely survived his first year at the Academy, but went on to be his class's most accomplished general) and George McClellan (finished second in the class, was predicted to be its greatest graduate, but turned out to be a bust on the battlefield, overcautious and paranoid). Well done.
Sep 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Great book that keeps you captivated at the intertwining of lives that went to school together, fought in Mexico & the West together then fought against each other in the Civil War. The author has done his homework & research, drawing from personal journals & writings of those involved in this tragic conflict. Highly recommend this book.
Jay C
Jun 11, 2012 rated it really liked it

Very good reading. Great history of West Point's small class of 1846. Surprisingly moving at times too (and I am NOT an emotional or sentimental person), especially when he writes of the death of Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson and also of the surrender at Appomattox, and how former adversaries treated each other with dignity and respect.
Sep 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Interesting look at the West Point class that provided the major leaders of forces for the south and north during the civil war. A close look at how they dealt with West Point education, performed in the Mexican American War, and the Civil War. Friends who were like brothers opposing each other in war. A bit lengthy, but excellent for that history buff who wants to know more.
Jul 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: civil-war
This was an excellent book. I read this back in 2001, but I still remember some of the stories from this book.

This book is also very well written for a non-fiction history book. It reads like a novel, the stories were amazingly interesting about names that people have head of before and a few people should know about.
George Nap
Nov 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
Good solid history, a little too much Jackson and McClellan. I would have liked to heard more about the pre-Civil War days of a wider variety of the graduates, as well as their contributions in the Civil War.
Apr 16, 2016 added it
Shelves: rdng-648, nonfiction
This book is essential for any American History buff. It tells the stories of several men in the Westpoint class of 1846, starting from when they were admitted and carrying through the civil war that pitted them against each other. This could be a great resource for comparing and contrasting
Nov 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Interesting book that follows the graduates of West Point through their time in college through the Civil War. Engagingly written and easy to understand. Maps would have made it easier.

Long book. I read novels as I read this. That is why it took me so long.
Oct 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: military-history
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The author introduces many of the class of 1846 and follows their lives through the American Civil War. I had no idea just how audaciously many of them lived. I highly recommend this book for those interested in the Civil War or human nature.
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A Brief Self-Serving Bio

I'm a journalist turned historical reporter:

1956–1973, staff correspondent and bureau chief on The Christian Science Monitor. Honors included the American Bar Association’s 1972 Silver Gavel Award for the best national reporting, for a series on American prisons.
1973–1976, media specialist on the staff of Republican Vice President Nelson Rockefeller of New York.
1983–1988, p
“Why is Old Jack a better general than Moses?” was the question they liked to ask. “Because it took Moses forty years to lead the Israelites through the wilderness,” the answer went, “and Old Jack would have double-quicked them through in three days.”10” 2 likes
“Hill gave her a ring in which were etched the words “Je t’aime.” As Sylvanus Thayer, the father of West Point, had said so long ago, all the important things are written in French.” 2 likes
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