Major General George H. Sharpe and the Creation of American Military Intelligence in the Civil War

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Major General George H. Sharpe and the Creation of American Military Intelligence in the Civil War

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Length: 1,139 pages16 hours

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This biography of the Civil War officer who established the Union’s intelligence network “is an absolute treasure trove of . . . operational information” (Military History Magazine).
 
In this biography of George H. Sharpe, acclaimed historian Peter Tsouras recounts the significance of Sharpe’s grand contribution to the Union war effort: the creation of an all-source intelligence operation known as the Bureau of Military Information. Tsouras contends that, under Sharpe’s leadership, the BMI was the combat multiplier that ultimately brought the Union to victory.
 
By early 1863, in the two-and-half months before the Chancellorsville Campaign, Sharpe had compiled a thorough and accurate Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield. His reports identified every brigade and its location in Lee’s army, provided an order-of-battle down to the regiment level, and a complete analysis of the railroad. Beyond this, Sharpe assembled a staff of thirty to fifty scouts and support personnel to run the military intelligence operation of the Army of the Potomac. He later supported Grant’s armies operating against Richmond during the Siege of Petersburg, where the BMI played a fundamental role in the victory.
 
After the war, Sharpe became one of the most powerful Republican politicians in New York State, had close friendships with presidents Grant and Arthur, and was a champion of African American civil rights. With a wealth of newly discovered primary documents, including the diaries of Sharpe’s deputy John C. Babcock, Tsouras sheds significant new light on the evolution of Civil War intelligence reporting.
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