GEORGE WASHINGTON'S INDISPENSABLE MEN: The Thirty-Two Aides-de-Camp Who Helped Win American Independence

Arthur S. Lefkowitz, Author
Arthur S. Lefkowitz, Author . Stackpole $29.95 (480p) ISBN 978-0-8117-1646-8
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This densely written but valuable monograph is a group portrait of George Washington's plentiful aides. Drawn from major early American elites—merchants, doctors, planters—these men performed most of the function of a modern staff, including keeping the general from being bothered by importunate politicians while performing his military duties, and helping him overcome the inability to be in two places at the same time. The only one who became famous was Alexander Hamilton, although most of us have heard of the fort in Baltimore named after James McHenry. But who (besides those who preserved his Revolutionary War uniform) has heard of the longest-serving aide, Tench Tilghman? Washington remained on good terms and in contact with most of the 32 after the war, so they continued to be his eyes and ears during his postwar career and almost certainly contributed to his effectiveness as president. Lefkowitz (The Long Retreat: The Calamitous American Defense of New Jersey, 1776) has made few concessions to the reader unfamiliar with the period, but an abundance of detail, a firm command of the declarative sentence and positively magisterial notes and bibliography make the volume a valuable addition to serious studies of the war. (Jan.)

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