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Winfield Scott Hancock (February 14, 1824 February 9, 1886) was one of the most colorful men in the Union Army during the Civil War, but he was also one of the most capable soldiers. He served with distinction in the Army for four decades, including service in the Mexican-American War, and his Civil War service earned him the nickname "Hancock the Superb." Nowhere was Hancock more superb than at the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863. One military historian wrote, "No other Union general at Gettysburg dominated men by the sheer force of their presence more completely than Hancock." Another wrote, "... his tactical skill had won him the quick admiration of adversaries who had come to know him as the 'Thunderbolt of the Army of the Potomac'." His military service continued after the Civil War, as Hancock participated in the military Reconstruction of the South and the Army's presence at the Western frontier. Hancock's reputation as a war hero at Gettysburg, combined with his rare status as a prominent figure with impeccable Unionist credentials and pro-states' rights views, made him a quadrennial presidential possibility in the years after the Civil War. His noted integrity was a counterpoint to the corruption of the era, for as President Rutherford B. Hayes said, "... [i]f, when we make up our estimate of a public man, conspicuous both as a soldier and in civil life, we are to think first and chiefly of his manhood, his integrity, his purity, his singleness of purpose, and his unselfish devotion to duty, we can truthfully say of Hancock that he was through and through pure gold." This nationwide popularity led the Democrats to nominate him for President in 1880. Although he ran a strong campaign, Hancock was defeated by Republican James Garfield by the closest popular vote margin in American history. Ambrose Burnside was commander of the Army of the Potomac in December 1862, during which he commanded the disastrous Battle of Fredericksburg. After having trouble crossing the Rappahannock to reach the city, his army attacked strongly fortified positions on Maryes Heights piecemeal, leading to high casualty rates without coming close to dislodging the Confederates. After the defeat, Burnside retreated back across the river. After the war, Hancock wrote a lengthy official account of the Battle of Fredericksburg that became part of The War of the Rebellion: Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. This edition of his account includes pictures of the important commanders of the battle.

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