Illustration of Benjamin F. Butler

Benjamin Franklin Butler (1818–1893) played a crucial but controversial role in the early Civil War. He was a lawyer and politician from Massachusetts. Despite having no military experience, he secured a rank as brigadier general of Massachusetts volunteers and was sent south the secure the railroads to Washington, DC. In Baltimore, Maryland, Butler suppressed a…

Illustration of Robert Patterson

On paper, Irish-born Maj. Gen. Robert Patterson (1792-1881) was the perfect person to lead the Department of Pennsylvania in 1861. He served in the Pennsylvania militia during the War of 1812, led troops to suppress two separate riots in Philadelphia, and fought in the Mexican War as a high-ranking officer. He owned several cotton mills,…

Illustration of Robert L. McCook

Robert Latimer McCook (1827-1862) was a lawyer from Ohio, one of nine children of Daniel McCook. Robert, seven of his brothers, and his father all fought for the Union during the Civil War. Their family was known as the "Fighting McCooks". When the Civil War broke out, Robert recruited the 9th Ohio Infantry from among…

Illustration of William S. Rosecrans

William Starke Rosecrans (1819-1898) was born in Ohio and despite having no formal education, graduated from West Point in 1842. He did not fight in the Mexican War and went into business as president of the Preston Coal Oil Company. When the Civil War broke out, he became aide-de-camp to Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan…

Illustration of Thomas A. Morris

Brig. Gen. Thomas Armstrong Morris (1811–1904) was a civil engineer from Kentucky who led a brigade under Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan during the Northwest Virginia Campaign. Morris graduated from West Point in 1834 and served as an artillery officer. When the Civil War broke out, he became quartermaster general of the Indiana state militia.…

Illustration of George B. McClellan

George Brinton McClellan was born in Philadelphia and graduated from West Point in 1846. He fought in the Mexican War, and his father was close friends with Maj. Gen. Winfield Scott, who would become overall commander of U.S. forces at the outbreak of the Civil War. McClellan's services were highly sought after, but Ohio Governor…