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Every successful General benefitted from “patronage” of a political nature: even U.S. Grant and William T. Sherman, while decrying “political generals” had their own political patrons. General Grant had Elihu Washburne; and Sherman had his brother,  Senator John Sherman of Ohio, and the politically connected Ewing family.

Question:  Who were the patrons of the following men?

Benjamin Prentiss

John McClernand

Henry Wager Halleck

George B. McClellan

Lew Wallace

Stephen Hurlbut

John A. Logan

John Fremont

Albert Sidney Johnston

Braxton Bragg

PGT Beauregard

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  • 4 weeks later...

Benjamin Prentiss: Good one. He was a politician but not a major one.

John McClernand: John McClernand ;)

Henry Wager Halleck: He seems to have owed his position to the support of Winfield Scott. Halleck, while a master of army politics, was not quite so good at getting patrons among the politicians.

George B. McClellan: Montgomery Blair

Lew Wallace: I think Oliver Morton, although from a different party, took a shine to Wallace.

Stephen Hurlbut: Abraham Lincoln, who thought Hurlbut was one of the finest public speakers in the country.

John A. Logan: John A. Logan ;)

John Fremont: The various radicals in Congress.

Albert Sidney Johnston: Jefferson Davis

Braxton Bragg: Thomas Bragg, Thomas Overton Moore

PGT Beauregard: Jacques Villere, John Slidell, Pierre Soule, although I have not been able to figure out if Soule held it against Beauregard for marrying into the Slidell family. Soule and Beauregard were pretty tight in 1852.

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Well done Sean Chick! If I can expand on your correct answers:

Benjamin Prentiss “had benefit of a politician; not a very good one.” At start of the National Emergency, Illinois Governor Richard Yates appears to have supported Prentiss (sent him to Cairo to command the situation there.) After the death of Senator Stephen Douglas in June 1861, Orville H. Browning was parachuted into the empty Senate seat… and assumed “support” of fellow Quincy resident, Benjamin Prentiss.

McClernand was the “Leading Congressman from Illinois” and provided his own patronage; and managed to finagle patronage from President Lincoln (of the opposite political party.) McClernand kept Lincoln appraised of “the real story” regarding operations out West through frequent letters (much in the same way Ulysses Doubleday kept President-elect Lincoln appraised of the situation at Fort Sumter in 1860/61.) These out-of-official channel letters acted as counterpoint to Official Army reports.

John A. Logan appears to have benefited from patronage of John McClernand early on; and subsequently received “support” of President Lincoln (because Lincoln needed southern Illinois Democrats to remain loyal to the Union.) Over time, the self-actualized John Logan became his own patron.

John Fremont. As first Republican candidate for President (1856) Fremont established a connection with Lincoln after the November 1860 election. Non-West Point army officer and self-made millionaire (actual net worth disputed; but a wealthy man) with strong political connections in Missouri (married into the Democrat Benton Family) Fremont was sent by President Lincoln to Europe as Special Emissary, with mission “to buy up all the serviceable small arms and light artillery pieces available.” These weapons helped arm the North… and Fremont’s purchase took them out of the market for possible sale to the South. For his support, Fremont was anointed Major General and put in command of Department of the West, based at St. Louis.


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Once you wrote the Yates part about Prentiss, it all came back to me. He played a pretty important role in 1861 in Illinois, so it is understandable he was annoyed about having Grant over him.

For McClellan, the Blair family is likely the best overall answer.

I almost put Lincoln for McClernand. It is true, but with two cavaets. First they were not friends and came from opposing parties. McClernand campaigned against Lincoln in 1860 and 1864. They even faced off in court a few times. But they had a decent working relationship, and did work a court case together. It is notable that after Vicksburg Lincoln abandoned McClernand. Lincoln was his patron, but not in an unreserved way such as you see with Davis' support for Johnston.

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