Major General Joseph Hooker's headquarters at the Chancellorsville house, where Washington A. Roebling served during that battle

Major General Joseph Hooker’s headquarters at the Chancellor House, where Washington A. Roebling served during that battle

Last night I finished Ernest B. Furgurson’s Chancellorsville 1863: The Souls of the Brave. My interest in reading the book was two-fold. First, I am trying to get a better sense of what the New York regiments dealt with during the Civil War. One of my objectives in the Roosevelt Sr. book is to explain how the homefront and the battlefront intertwined. Also, I am trying to nail down my Roebling history a little tighter for my volunteer work at the museum. I was always aware of Gouvernor K. Warren and Washington A. Roebling’s place on Joseph Hooker’s staff. Furgurson’s book fleshed that out a little more. Warren was Roebling’s immediate superior and eventual brother-in-law. After the war Roebling was the younger half of the father-son team that built the Brooklyn Bridge.

Less than a year after Chancellorsville and Gettysburg Warren was placed in command of the V Corps after Meade’s restructuring of the Army of the Potomac. Roebling followed. Until the Overland Campaign the battles in the East were primarily campaigns of movement. The trench warfare of 1864 was closer to what took place on Europe’s Western Front a half century later. Roebling lived until 1926 and would have been conscious of the parallels between the two. We know he didn’t think too much of Ulysses S. Grant, whom he called Useless Grant. The Roebling business was active in helping the Allied cause during the Great War, primarily in the making of submarine netting. Roebling knew war intimately. I cannot help but wonder what he thought about the carnage in Europe after having gone through it himself all those decades earlier.

(sketch by Edwin Forbes, courtesy Library of Congress)