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Civil War & Bloody Peace: Following Orders

Civil War & Bloody Peace: Following Orders is a history of attitude that reveals the character of US history in a way you’ve not seen before. You'll be walking an objective trail between two sides filled with faulty orders, misconceptions, deceit and well-known names who thought they were doing what's right for the country.

You’ll learn how Lincoln felt about the slaves in the first two years of the war; why the war lasted so long; how bloodthirsty Lincoln was; how involved Grant was in the years leading to the Little Bighorn; and so much more.

Henry Bertrand immigrated to the US in April 1862 from a German province and a month later was a regular army provost guard for the Union. The book follows his orders. He re-enlisted four more times until finally, in 1884, he was discharged for an injury that prevented him from having children. Thus, his life was the military and what he witnessed is his legacy. He was my grandfather’s great uncle, a real life “John Dunbar” from Dances with Wolves. Henry’s stories will hit the heart of those who never knew our country and those who thought they did. You see, his legacy is this quote that I researched for my master’s thesis: “We didn’t try hard to catch the Indians. We could see they were good people.”

During his Civil War years, you’ll find him on the various campaigns in the Army of the Potomac starting in 1862. What exactly Henry did and said are not important here—this is the not the story of his life. But by following orders you’ll learn why he went where he did—the attitude behind those orders. Without understanding the attitude of the people who made history, we’ll never understand the events themselves. You’ll follow General Grant around in the Civil War, to explore his development as the man who kept butting his head against a stone wall until he finally broke through. Why didn’t he take Lee’s sword in surrender? Why did he only write about those years, and not his years as President? Will did Custer die at the Little Bighorn. So many questions can be answered with this approach.

Henry is a German soldier who was always regular army, so right away you’ll see this is a different kind of history book, because no other book has been found that uses a regular army perspective. You’ll learn what led to the first federal draft and the tumultuous process of prisoner exchange. You’ll go inside the New York City draft riots and get up close and personal with headquarters of all the generals in the Army of the Potomac—McClellan, Burnside, Hooker, Meade and Grant. What you’ll see here is the "dirty backside" of these campaigns.

Many books have been written about Grant, most giving him credit for peace on the plains but not blame for the graft and scandal in his cabinet. In the latest books on Grant that were released, very little could be found on his Indian wars experiences. If historians focus mainly on Grant's autobiography to tell readers what this man was like, they're only telling what Grant wanted the world to remember.  History always needs to be shown with a balanced approach. 

So yes, there’s controversy. You’ll see material here no one else has found. Why would Henry say the army didn’t try to catch the Indians? Henry was always infantry. He had to be referring to the Cavalry. Just what did he witness? This is not Henry’s personal story, though you will get to know him and see him around. In following his orders we get a close look at why soldiers followed orders, and why orders were given. 

Because Henry was involved with Crook at the Rosebud in 1876, I followed all the events that led up to the Little Bighorn battle, which exposes Grant's involvement in Custer's death in a way never shown before. You’ll follow him to Kentucky to protect the black vote for Grant’s re-election and understand politics in a way that may have evaded you in the past.

This book will tell us a lot about the country we are today, because it’s not a separate look at the Civil War, or Reconstruction, or the Indian wars. With one soldier who’d been involved in all three, you can see the impact that these periods had on each other, and you’ll come to understand how these periods still affect us today.

This book is meant for popular consumption with plenty of humanity, but it’s also perfect for the high school and college classroom. One of my historical fiction novels has been required reading for three college classes so far. 

“Civil War and Bloody Peace: Following Orders” is the way history needs to be told. It shows what people need to know.

I earned a master’s in history in 2006, with the Indian wars half of this book as my master’s thesis. When I first started submitting this book, it was over 170,000 words but with this new focus on Grant with Henry’s orders, I pared it down to about 135,000 words.  Most photos and all maps are free use or use obtained. 


Chapter 1: Recruitment is Cancelled, 1862

Henry enlists in May 1862 into regular army. Lincoln closed volunteer recruiting because he has prisoners that need guarding and the 8th U.S. is organizing. This chapter includes some background on immigration, Ulysses S. Grant, and events that led to secession. 

Chapter 2: The Need for Guards

General George McClellan (Mac) turns the Army of the Potomac into a disciplined force, but feels Lincoln doesn’t support him. You’ll learn about the provost guard as Henry enlists in time to guard Grant’s prisoners. Grant suffers a setback at Shiloh, and Lincoln thinks about freeing the slaves but doesn’t know what he’d do with them.

Chapter 3:  Response to Mac’s Demands

Mac wants more troops. Rebel General Robert E. Lee takes the field for the first time in June 1862. The recruiting offices were opened again but volunteer enlistment is slow. Mac gets close to Richmond but has to pull back. We get our first look at Custer in the field.

Chapter 4: Political Wins

Mac believes lies about Rebel strength and fears he’s outnumbered. Bills are passed that were held up before Secession, such as the railroad expansion westward. Lincoln creates a second army in the North, placing some of Mac’s command under General John Pope. 

Chapter 5: On the Way to Antietam

Henry is mustered into the army on August 10th and joins the Army of the Potomac. Grant is let down at Corinth, where timing is lost. We look at the Sioux uprising, where Pope is sent after losing Lincoln’s faith. Mac chases Lee to Antietam after getting his hands on Lee’s orders.

Chapter 6: After the War’s Worst Day 

Lincoln sees Antietam as a victory and goes public with the Emancipation Proclamation, considered a mistake by some. Grant lays out his plans to take Vicksburg at any cost. Mac is moving on a new campaign in November but he is replaced by General Ambrose Burnside, to the dismay of Henry and other soldiers.

Chapter 7: Burnside’s Stone Wall

Activities leading to Burnside’s devastating performance at Fredericksburg in December 1862 include faulty communication for supplies, delays and more delays, Union raids into southern homes in the city, Henry’s duties in shooting deserters, and Lee’s ability to stay one step ahead and remain on the defensive. Lincoln calculates the losses with a positive perspective. He finds fault with Grant for issuing an order against Jewish traders.

Chapter 8: Marching in Mud, 1863

Reactions to Lincoln’s signing the Emancipation Proclamation are explored and the first black troops are enlisted. Burnside gets the army moving on a new campaign in January 1863 but the troops become bogged in mud. Burnside resigns.

Chapter 9: Lincoln Baits the Generals

General Joseph Hooker takes over from Burnside, adding badges and “hookers” to the army landscape, along with realigning his army structure, as they continue to glare at Lee across the river. Lincoln offers a major-generalship to the first general with a victory, so Grant demands some of Hooker’s troops. Henry’s company is sent to New Orleans in March to add support in campaigns against Port Hudson and Vicksburg. The Enrollment Act for the first federal draft is passed to growing opposition. 

Chapter 10: Cowards and Hooker Particulars

While Grant sieges at Vicksburg Henry returns to witness balloons in the sky and German cowardice in battle; Hooker’s campaign in May is seen from headquarters’ perspective with an abbreviated look at the battles. Lincoln suspends prisoner exchange because the Rebels won’t return black soldiers. The enlistment for the federal draft begins.

Chapter 11: Heck of a Way to Run a War

Lee thinks invading the north is a good idea and tries to draw Hooker out, who refuses to be drawn. They raid the countryside, making Maryland locals mad. Only days before Gettysburg Hooker is replaced with Meade. Say hello to J.P. Slough, a man you don’t know, but will see leaving in a most unusual way in the second half of the book. Enlistment for the draft was ordered to be completed without delay, ending the chapter on an ominous note.

Chapter 12: Battle Heroes & Draft Dodgers 

Grant continues siege of Vicksburg as Confederates weaken. Meade uses Henry’s provost to set up headquarters near Gettysburg, and the struggle to control the area begins. We follow the heroes through the three-day fighting. Meanwhile, the federal draft inspires violent reactions, leading to Henry’s orders after Gettysburg.

Chapter 13: The Cost of Freedom

Grant’s next victory is Chattanooga, completing Union control of the West. The draft begins in New York City, leading to riots, especially against blacks, while Seymour insists his quotas were filled. Just before the Eighth Infantry arrives in NYC, an uneasy peace descends on the city. The Eighth remains there to guard the city when the draft resumes, and there they stay because Meade isn’t doing much anyway.

Chapter 14: The Lull before Grant’s Storm, 1863-1864

Meade fumbles through the end of 1863 and Lincoln stews. Lee wants to quit but Davis panics. Henry gets another trip to New Orleans in February to issue the oath of loyalty to citizens so they could vote Louisiana back into the Union. In March Grant is made Lieutenant General of all the armies. Henry returns to the Army of the Potomac for a new campaign with Grant—under Ambrose Burnside. Lee feels ready again.

Chapter 15: Trees of Blood & Bone

Grant marches through the Wilderness and the Rebels attack, using trees to fight a guerilla war. Each of the battles are shown in some detail. Lincoln now fears losses will reflect poorly on him at election time.  He established Memorial Day and immediately calls for more volunteers or another draft, to renewed protests.

Chapter 16: On the Road to Petersburg

Road work shown here, the movement of the armies as they prepare for their next confrontation. Readers will see what it was like to travel for such large armies and how they sparred enroute. This lays the groundwork for Grant’s plan—confronting Lee at Petersburg.

Chapter 17: A Cold Day in Hell

Grant forces a battle at Cold Harbor in June, the one that he claims to regret. The trenches and fortifications at Petersburg were formidable but the manpower is skeletal, at first. Missed opportunities by Meade and Grant demonstrate how weary all have become.

Chapter 18: The Capture Petersburg Campaign

Movements from Cold Harbor to Petersburg demonstrate just how shell shocked the Army of the Potomac had become. Imagine still being able to shoot a gun after a loss of 60,000 men in a month’s time. This is the chapter of fizzled campaigns leading to the siege.

Chapter 19: Living in a State of Siege

Time is condensed to show life in a siege, an attempt of the Rebels to attack Lincoln in Washington, and lack of volunteerism for “the bloody butcher” Grant.

Chapter 20: Burnside & The Crater Disaster

Burnside came up with a dastardly plan: dig a tunnel under the enemy line to their fortification and blow a hole right through it. In the ensuing chaos he would send well-trained black troops right into Petersburg to claim the town. What an ingenuous idea and they had the miners with the know-how to pull this off. The black troops, too, were excited for their first real contribution to the war. Unfortunately, Burnside didn’t get approval to send them in first.

Chapter 21: Train Wrecks

An intensive look at the movements around railroads and unsupported attacks. A lot of the luck of Lee is shown here, as he holds off hoping for a foiled election.

Chapter 22: Election Despair

Lincoln is pitted in the presidential elections that November against his old nemesis, George McClellan. Henry assists in attacks on Petersburg rail lines, until the Eighth is ordered to protect the election process in New York. The Eighth is then reassigned to the Department of the East where rumors of attacks keep Henry’s company hopping. 

Chapter 23: If No Troops, Send Rumors 

Here readers will see the more unusual aspects of the war as the end of the Confederacy draws near, even though Jeff Davis remains as belligerent as always. Henry’s Eighth Infantry is sent after rumors of secret Confederate operations on the Canadian border, while Colorado militia volunteer John Chivington attacks Indians at Sand Creek in November. With the end of the Petersburg siege soldiers rush into Richmond as Lee escapes. 

Chapter 24: The Splintered Union, 1865

Grant and Lee have an amicable meeting at Lee’s surrender. Lincoln’s assassination is shown in respect to when word of his death was released. A look at treatment of prisoners demonstrates why the South couldn’t feed its prisoners. Henry re-enlists in regular army. Grant begins to reorganize the military.

First half word count – 55162 (237 pages)

Chapter 25: Westward Migrations, 1865-66

We need to see how the army is reconstructed, western settlers are getting impatient, and railroad progress is accompanied by treaty negotiations and deceit, making Red Cloud’s angry. 

Chapter 26: Unsettled Settlers, 1866-1867

George Custer and General W.S. Hancock are called to western duty and the army is reorganized. Hancock had no Indian experience and was put in charge of the army’s first major campaign in Kansas. This chapter also gives a good background on why the next assignment is in New Mexico. While Hancock is organizing, a peace commission is arranged to temporarily soothe Sand Creek tempers and treaty for more land. 

Chapter 27: Forcing a War

After a brief discussion of this peacetime military in the South and West, Henry with the 37th Infantry march as part of Hancock’s column. But Hancock only makes a mess of things, leading to the burning of an Indian village—there are stories about this that Henry shared, not found anywhere else. We’ll also see how the Treaty of Fort Laramie leads to the solution for the railroad that becomes known as Grant’s Peace on the Plains.

Chapter 28: A Starvation Farm, 1867-1868

Henry’s service at Santa Fe and Fort Sumner are related to the Peace Commission of 1867 and what should be done with the Navajos. Grant is offered interim Secretary of War when Johnson fires Stanton. A lot of this was created from primary documents, including the use of the otherwise closed-down Fort Marcy in Santa Fe, and the public murder of a judge, who Henry guards until his acquittal. Henry’s service was up on May 31st, but he wouldn’t leave Fort Sumner until he saw the Navajos win their release.

Chapter 29: A New President, 1868-1869

Henry attempts to make it as an average private citizen at home in Janesville, Wisconsin. The War and Interior departments arrive at an uneasy understanding with the conclusion of the peace treaty, and the railroad connects at Promontory Point. Custer is called back to duty in time, after being dishonorably discharged to attack Black Kettle’s band at Washita successfully by dividing his army. Before Henry re-enlists in July 1869, Grant is president.

Chapter 30: Peace on the Plains, 1869-1871

Grant’s peace on the plains continues the system of “friendly on the reservation, hostile off.” Henry gets involved in activity around Red Cloud’s departure for Washington in 1870, and this shows chapter what peace looked like after Red Cloud decided never to fight the whites again.

Chapter 31: Reconstruction & Re-election, 1871-1872

After a setup of Kentucky post-war problems, the Eighth Infantry and Custer head to Kentucky to shut down the Ku Klux (KK) and protect the black vote. We’ll see primary information about what Kentucky was like during reconstruction, including bootlegging and treatment of freed slaves. After Grant is re-elected, Henry is ordered back to the West. And Custer is assigned to his first military expedition to search for gold.

Chapter 32: Panicking for Gold, 1873

The Fourth U.S. Infantry moves to Fort Russell, Wyoming, in time to help protect the west during Custer’s first military expedition to Indian Territory to look for gold. A financial panic related to railroad speculation increases the need and desire for gold. Henry’s voice emerges in a transcript of a military trial, and a suicide of his friend is analyzed.

Chapter 33: That Last Great Reservation, 1874-1875

The military and Indian agents keep trying to find reasons to fear an Indian uprising, while miners sneak onto Indian lands. Custer takes a major journey with another expedition to look for gold, this time into the Black Hills. General George Crook, newly appointed to the Department of the Platte, makes a last attempt to keep miners out of the Black Hills. A meeting with Indians in Washington to offer to buy the Black Hills is set up but Grant refuses to meet with them until that summer’s expedition is completed. The expedition sans Custer gave a discouraging report on gold, but this was changed into a positive one.

Chapter 34:  Grant’s Culpability, 1875-1876

The Allison Commission of 1875 is expected to make a deal for the Black Hills but they find themselves facing 20,000 Indians, who either want too much money or won’t sell at all. Grant holds a secret meeting with his generals, and most historians agree the reason was to stop trying to remove the miners from the Black Hills. Henry’s orders indicate that this plan was developed prior to this meeting, setting up the idea that Grant planned to force the Indians to break treaty by allowing them to kill miners. The ultimatum Grant issued December 6th is an attempt to force the Indians to fight, but also fails. Crook’s first campaign is also a failure.

Chapter 35: Crook & The Death of Custer, 1876

Crook heads north from Fort Fetterman as one of three columns to surround the Indians, but they are stopped at the Rosebud. Henry serves with his command. Custer’s battle is examined through Indian viewpoints. All reports indicate that there were more Indians in the field than expected and that they weren’t running as expected. Grant encouraged Sheridan’s lack of support or communication with these columns. Custer never learned of Crooks’ defeat by an overwhelming force of Indians. 

Chapter 36: Success of Planned Defeat

The news of Custer’s defeat unites Easterners with Westerners in favor of taking the Indians’ treated land, and more men enlist for 90 days. Crook makes a monumental decision—to go after the Indians in the Black Hills without enough rations, causing near starvation of his troops; the only success was a single battle of a small hunting party. Other Indians are chased as commissioners obtain just a few Indian signatures to claim US control of the Black Hills. The campaigns of that year end in December in freezy, snowy conditions.

Chapter 37: Unstable Politics, 1877-1878

In the contested presidential race between Hayes and Tilden, Hayes is awarded the presidency with Grant’s promise to remove all troops from the south, on the condition that black rights are upheld. Under Hayes, the idea of allotment of Indian lands begins to be voiced. Henry gets one last chance for an Indian war during the Ute uprising in Colorado; before that battle, Henry’s enlistment with the Fourth ends. So does the life of his commander in the field.

Chapter 38: Border Troubles, 1879-1881

Henry re-enlists in the Twentieth Infantry and is assigned to Columbus Barracks, Ohio to recruit for Fort Brown, Texas. With Grant’s encouragement, a railroad is planned between Mexico and the U.S. at Brownsville. The next presidential election is between Garfield and W.S. Hancock, as Grant acts negatively toward being re-nominated. Garfield is shot and the Ghost Dance begins. President Arthur signs the Allotment Act, and Henry’s Twentieth at Fort Brown is ordered back to Kansas when the railroad fails to be built at Brownsville.

Chapter 39: The Professional Soldier, 1882-1885 

A military school opens at Fort Leavenworth. Henry transports recruits between Fort Hays and Leavenworth. He is also sent on a secret mission. Some forts are closed, and others designated for specific purposes. Grant’s slow decline is also related. This is a transitional chapter, from Indian wars, to the US looking outward for its military purpose. 

Chapter 40: The Last Great Breakout, 1885-1890

Henry enters his retirement years in a soldier’s home. Crook is appointed to get the last of the Indians to agree to the Dawes Allotment Act; he learns the promises he made would not be kept, and died shortly after. In terms of who fired the first shot at Wounded Knee, readers will understand why there is still controversy around the death of Sitting Bull and the Ghost Dance. 

Chapter 41: As These Issues Diminish, 1891-1916

Henry marries and moves back to De Pere to be with his brother’s family. Cleveland gets the presidency back in 1892, but loses it again in 1896. Lingering attacks against Indians, a third presidential assassination, Teddy Roosevelt’s racial prejudices, more on Mexico, as Henry fights to get a bigger pension, but Indian wars service years were not awarded until after he died of suicide in 1916. 


A number of issues are summarized here, including temporary insanity, the way Germans felt toward blacks, and a reflection of why the country is still so disunited today.

Word Count Part 2: 79,993


Links to other works

I have had some interviews available online and some short articles as well. You'll see links to them here. From time to time I'll add a page of a piece of work that could not find a publisher, including my historic Booyah article.


As Historian

I have a lot of insights into why we believe what we do about the past. I hope to share some of them here.