Any Books on Irvin McDowell?

Belfoured

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Aug 3, 2019
I'm currently researching the battle of First Manassas; does anyone know any book written about Irvin McDowell?
None that I know of. He apparently left minimal correspondence and papers, so a good biography would be a challenge. It's unfortunate, because he was an important figure (for better or worse) during the first year of the war and also did distinguished service in Mexico, as well as in your area (as I'm sure you know) later in the war and afterwards
 

Lubliner

Captain
Forum Host
Joined
Nov 27, 2018
Location
Chattanooga, Tennessee
He loved water-melons! Rather robust, he was the first general to really feel the political push during the Civil War. Because of his rout at Bull Run he has almost been held in infamy. I wish someone would clear his record and give us a good Biography. I think it would be well worth it.
Lubliner.
 

John Hartwell

Major
Forum Host
Joined
Aug 27, 2011
Location
Central Massachusetts
The NY Herald (May 6, 1885) seems to have the fairest evaluation of him:
1618885200913.png
 

Lincoln56

Private
Joined
Jul 24, 2016
Location
Texas
He loved water-melons! Rather robust, he was the first general to really feel the political push during the Civil War. Because of his rout at Bull Run he has almost been held in infamy. I wish someone would clear his record and give us a good Biography. I think it would be well worth it.
Lubliner.
'Monstrous fine!' he pronounced as he proceeded to eat the entire watermelon. Phrase in quotes written by either Foote or Catton, can't remember whom.

Additionally there were concerns about his headgear: http://www.militarysunhelmets.com/2013/the-mysterious-helmet-of-general-irvin-mcdowell

Here is a quote from the above link:

1618921457052.png


As ridiculous as the rest of this sentence sounds, wasn't he accused by some detractors of wearing this helmet to transmit signals to the Confederates of Union intentions?

Will try and find the source for this....
 

Belfoured

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Aug 3, 2019
He loved water-melons! Rather robust, he was the first general to really feel the political push during the Civil War. Because of his rout at Bull Run he has almost been held in infamy. I wish someone would clear his record and give us a good Biography. I think it would be well worth it.
Lubliner.
As for First Bull Run, he probably had been handed "mission impossible" for a slew of reasons.
 

John Hartwell

Major
Forum Host
Joined
Aug 27, 2011
Location
Central Massachusetts
"Elsewhere....".
Lubliner.
The "Elsewhere" mentioned in the clipping in post #2 refers to an interesting and and rather detailed obituary on another page of that May 6, 1885, issue of the NY Herald. It provides explanations/excuses for all the failures he has been chrged with during the war. Clearly written by one of his admirers.
1618925867780.png

It is attached in full below as a pdf.
 

Attachments

  • New_York_Herald_1885-05-06_[7].pdf
    122.7 KB · Views: 6
Last edited:
Joined
Jan 27, 2018
Location
Bay Area, California
The "Elsewhere" mentioned in the clipping in post #2 refers to an interesting and and rather detailed obituary on another page of that May 6, 1885, issue of the NY Herald. It provides explanations/excuses for all the failures he has been chrged with during the war. Clearly written by one of his admirers.
View attachment 398377
It is attached in full below as a pdf.

This is a huge help, thank you!
 

Belfoured

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Aug 3, 2019
'Monstrous fine!' he pronounced as he proceeded to eat the entire watermelon. Phrase in quotes written by either Foote or Catton, can't remember whom.

Additionally there were concerns about his headgear: http://www.militarysunhelmets.com/2013/the-mysterious-helmet-of-general-irvin-mcdowell

Here is a quote from the above link:

View attachment 398371

As ridiculous as the rest of this sentence sounds, wasn't he accused by some detractors of wearing this helmet to transmit signals to the Confederates of Union intentions?

Will try and find the source for this....
That rumor apparently did circulate. I've never seen a photo of that head gear, which would be useful because somebody (Catton?) described it in a way which didn't connote a regular pith helmet If I recall correctly, the British Army in India had been wearing those for awhile, so a simple pith helmet shouldn't have provoked that kind of rumor. I also never understood what it possibly could be signalling - other than "Nothing to worry about because McDowell's in command" - which presumably any idiot with access to the Yankee media would know anyway. 😎
 

Lincoln56

Private
Joined
Jul 24, 2016
Location
Texas
'Monstrous fine!' he pronounced as he proceeded to eat the entire watermelon. Phrase in quotes written by either Foote or Catton, can't remember whom.

Additionally there were concerns about his headgear: http://www.militarysunhelmets.com/2013/the-mysterious-helmet-of-general-irvin-mcdowell

Here is a quote from the above link:

View attachment 398371

As ridiculous as the rest of this sentence sounds, wasn't he accused by some detractors of wearing this helmet to transmit signals to the Confederates of Union intentions?

Will try and find the source for this....
Comment regarding the watermelon and the helmet are from Shelby Foote, The Civil War: A Narrative Volume 1 Fort Sumter to Perryville.

Page 73:
1618971789038.png


Page 622:
1618971579654.png


@Belfoured, agree this description certainly doesn't read like a pith helmet in the traditional sense. Am not aware of any photos with McDowell showing this helmet; perhaps others on this site have seen one and can point us toa link?

There is the well known "McDowell Forage Cap" associated with him and are photographs of him wearing. Below is a representative sample; but this is clearly not the one described by Foote:

1618972346104.png
 
Last edited:

Saruman

Sergeant
Joined
Jun 10, 2011
I also read somewhere that he was a teetotaler and was proud that after being knocked unconscious from a fall from a horse, he still refused to open his mouth to receive a ration of spirits designed to revive him.
 

Lincoln56

Private
Joined
Jul 24, 2016
Location
Texas
I also read somewhere that he was a teetotaler and was proud that after being knocked unconscious from a fall from a horse, he still refused to open his mouth to receive a ration of spirits designed to revive him.
You are correct - Shelby Foote, Volume 1 of the Civil War: A Narrative, page 73:

1619012389129.png


This, also from Foote, page 637, is a favorite:

1619012558005.png
 
Top