“Good natured, stolid, and like a big Newfoundland dog among a lot of puppies”

George Crook

This quote, made by fellow Ohioan and childhood acquaintance Commodore James Greer describes George Crook.  (Greer had a distinguished Civil War.  He served on the USS San Jacinto when that vessel stopped the British mail packet Trent and removed Confederate commissioners James Mason and John Slidell.  He commanded several Union ironclads later in the war and rose to the flag officer rank of commodore after the war.)

This week I read George Crook His Autobiography edited and arranged by Martin F. Schmitt. (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1946). I have added this quote and several other great ones to my collection.  I discovered Crook’s autobiography while reading Sheridan’s Lieutenants by David Coffey (Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers Inc., 2005).  Crook is a pretty good writer himself.  I found his autobiography to be interesting and well done.  He doesn’t hesitate to take a poke here and there at his Army colleagues.  Of interest was his friendship with fellow lieutenant John Bell Hood while both served in the Pacific Northwest together in the mid 1850s.  At the beginning of the Civil War, Crook was given command of the 36th Ohio Infantry Regiment.  When his brigade commander August Moor got himself captured by Confederate cavalry in Frederick on September 12, 1862 Crook moved up to command Moor’s brigade for the remainder of the Marylander.  Moor you may remember uttered the famous quote “My God be careful” two days later to Jacob Cox after he had been paroled by the Confederates.  Cox’s encounter with Moor on the National Pike essentially set up the Battle of Fox Gap.  Crook commanded the brigade at Fox Gap and Antietam.  Later he would serve as a cavalry division commander under Phil Sheridan.  The two men were close friends for many years having attended West Point together.  However they eventually had a falling out when Sheridan apparently didn’t credit Crook for his success at the Battle of Winchester in 1864.  Crook would go on to become one of the Army’s premier Indian fighters.  Unlike Sheridan, Custer and others, Crook demonstrated a respect and sympathy for the Indians rarely seen by other western campaigners.  See Crook’s quotes here, and a companion article at South From the North Woods here.

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