Reason.tv: Yankee Warhorse-Mary B. Townsend on her Biography of Maj. Gen. Peter Joseph Osterhaus


Peter Joseph Osterhaus was one of the most accomplished of the wave of "'48ers"—Germans who participated in the 1848-49 Rebellion, then fled their native land—to re-settle in the United States.

Now he is subject of a biography, Mary Bobbitt Townsend's Yankee Warhorse: A Biography of Major General Peter J. Osterhaus, published by the University of Missouri Press.

Townsend, who is Osterhaus' great-great-granddaughter, uses fresh scholarship and never-before-published source material to describe Osterhaus' important battlefield roles in Vicksburg, Chattanooga, and Atlanta, as well as his time as a Major General for the Union Army in the Civil War, military governor of Mississippi during the early days of Reconstruction, and later U.S. consul general in Lyon.

Approximately 3.09 minutes. Shot by Dan Hayes and interviewed by Reason's Matt Welch, who is Townsend's son. Edited by Josh Swain.

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  1. Why is Reason celebrating these communists?

    The German Marxists who came to the US to fight for Lincoln and big government, were applauded by Karl Marx, but should not be applauded by

    Saw a movie “Cheyenne Autumn” on cable that sanctified Carl Schurz, another of these German commies, who after the war became Sec of the Interior. Of course, he came personally to intervene with the military to prevent the final massacre of the beleagured Cheyenne rebel band. Afterward, the young rebel Indian, Sal Mineo, is killed by his own tribe to consecrate the reservation destiny of the tribe.

    1. Um, isn’t it obvious:

      interviewed by Reason’s Matt Welch, who is Townsend’s son.

      That’s his great-great-great-grandpappy.

      Not that I have any idea who he is or what he did.

  2. Approximately 3.09 minutes? Come on, guys, let’s nail this down. I’m a busy man,on a very tight schedule.

    I’m not sure “Libertree” is for real–did he wish the Cheyenne had been massacred?–but I do mourn the death of Sal Mineo.

    1. +1, we have a winner.

  3. It is hard for a libertarian to admire any general on either side in the War for Southern Independence. Unless the admiration is kept to military skills – much like one might admire Erwin Rommel while abhoring the cause for which he fought.

    1. yeah because fighting a war than ended the enslavement of millions is just like fighting for the Nazis. Oh yeah, Lincoln spent money in violation of the general welfare clause. Yeah that is just like sticking people in ovens.

      And if you want to blame anyone for the war and the government measures taken because of it, blame the Southerners from being white supremacist slavers bent on spreading their way of life throughout North America.

      1. Just curious, which Northern generals do you admire and why?

        1. From a military standpoint? Sherman and Grant get a short shrift I think. When comes to generals history loves a loser. So it heaps praise on R.E. Lee instead of the people who won the damned war. I think McClellen was a good Calvary officer.

          But for the most part the generals on either side were not that great. There were a few exceptions (N.B. Forrest, Jackson and I think Grant and Lee but Lee is not as good as he is made out to be). The North won that war with numbers and a superior industrial society and will not with great generalship. But honestly, considering the circumstances I am not sure what a great general would have done differently. The North was faced with a well armed, fanatical and generally well led force defending its own ground. There was no way to defeat that force without a ton of blood, which is exactly what happened.

          1. I love Sherman! Though I wouldn’t really call him much of a general since he hardly fought. I’d call him a great leader, strategist, and all-around creative thinker.

            1. He was. His campaign against Johnston in North Georgia was pretty clever. He just used his larger force and kept out flanking him and forcing him to retreat to Atlanta. It showed a lot of patience and skill.

            2. He was nothing without Peabody.

          2. John, agreed (assuming you meant Sheridan). Though a great general on the Northern side would have not let Lee wiggle out of Antietam (major mistake on Lee’s part to fight there, but he later claimed he “knew McClellan.”) A.P. Hill would have arrived too late to save Lee had McClellan put in all his troops at once instead of piecemeal. (And, yes, I know he got bad intelligence on size of Lee’s forces, and yes he did need to keep a corps in reserve just in case.)

        2. No McCellen, Sheridan was a good cavalry officer. My mind is going.

          1. An n-great uncle somewhere up on my dad’s side served under Sheridan, and got blown up by grapeshot for his troubles. And I think someone on my mom’s side served under J.E.B. Stuart. So I guess I ought to learn how to ride a horse.

      2. With as much as people still get worked up over this shit, it must have really sucked to be in Kansas in 1859.

        1. Yes it would have. Southern defenders never mention that little episode. And they never mention Dread Scott either, at least not for its real implications which was universal slavery. But it was the North that was aggressive.

    2. Are you referring to the War of Northern Industrial Protectionism via Exploited Irish Immigrants Under the Guise of Abolishing Slavery?

      1. Sometimes people do the right things for the wrong reasons. And sometimes justice is served. And the South most definitely deserved everything it got.

        1. The South’s leaders may have, but its people mostly didn’t. But war sucks, and those idiots should have thought things through before they fired on Fort Sumter.

          1. Its people kind of did. They supported the war. They elected politicians who supported succession and started the war. It wasn’t the North who went nuts and started shooting. Lincoln never said he was going to end slavery, just keep it from spreading.

            1. Support for secession was far from overwhelming everywhere but South Carolina, if I remember right. It took a foreign invasion to really get the people behind their government, and it sure did.

              And besides, after a few years, the South was an authoritarian nightmare. Who knows what the people wanted by then.

              1. It was. And it wasn’t popular in North Carolina. And probably a few other places. I agree with you the Southern Aristocracy was vile. The average people granted didn’t deserve it. But the top people did.

            2. And for what it’s worth, I don’t believe that people deserve what their leaders bring upon them. The people of Dresden didn’t deserve to be incinerated, no matter how many of them cheerfully voted for the NDSAP 12 years before, and the people in Georgia and the Shenandoah didn’t deserve to be burned out.

              But war sucks, and deserve has very little to do with what happens in it.

            3. What, they supported fighting people who were invading their territory bent on depriving them of a republican system of government? Weird. Would have thought they would be out there throwing flowers and tearing down statues of Jefferson Davis.

              “It wasn’t the North who went nuts and started shooting”

              Some people might consider a foreign power moving soldiers and supplies into a military base located inside their own territory to be a somewhat hostile act, and, if diplomacy did not resolve the issue after an extended period of time, they might proceed to use violence to expel the invaders. But that would be “nuts”, yes?

    3. Nathan Bedford Forrest is the most admirable commander on either side.

      1. In some ways he was the best. Best cavalry officer of the war. Stewart couldn’t hold Forest’s jock. That guy was true natural. Never had any military training. He broke every rule in the book. But got away with it consistently. He had an absolutely uncanny feel for the battlefield.

        1. Forest was a self-made success who worked his way up purely on merit, both as a civilian and a soldier.

          And before anyone says otherwise:

          Forrest’s personal sentiments on the issue of race, however, were quite different from that of the Klan. Forrest was invited and gave a speech to an organization of black Southerners called the “Jubilee of Pole-Bearers” in 1875. In this speech, Forrest espoused a radically progressive (for the time) agenda of equality and harmony between black and white Americans.

          1. The Klan got taken over. He started it as a goofy club for him and his veteran buddies. That is why Klansman have stupid names like “Grand Wizard”.

            1. And then he disbanded it when it got violent. Our Klan is the 2nd Klan, reformed by some jackass in Georgia in 1915.

              1. Now we have the third version run by paid FBI informants.

      2. Matthew Fontaine Maury would rank higher if you take into account his achievements prior to the war as well.

    4. Don’t forget General George Armstrong Custer who was a temporary Major General at the end of the Civil War. His ancestors were from Germany.

  4. Never really thought about it that way before.


  5. Osterhaus died in Duisburg and was buried in Koblenz. The grave no longer exists.

    What the heck does that mean? Assumption?

    1. Maybe they built a WalMart on it.

  6. Northerners who fly Confederate flags: Are they stupid rednecks, stupid posers, or stupid racists? Go.

    1. The confederate flag has moved beyond all meaning it once had. Now it is just a brand. A way of saying fuck you to the other team. A Northerner who flies it is like an Alabama fan who wears his colors in Tennessee.

    2. In my experience Northerners flying Confederate flags tend to be all three.

      I wonder about the Brits who fly it.

  7. They fly it after having sex with your mother.

  8. Osterhaus, thanks to a little luck (he stumbled on an open road to Bragg’s rear), a lot of energy, and the support from Hooker, was instrumental in undermining the Confederate left flank at Chattanooga and thus set up Thomas’ successful charge up the middle of Missionary Ridge. When the Confederacy lost Chattanooga that day (25 Nov. 1863), the Union was free to roam at will throughout the South. It was decided to take Atlanta, and its fall (2 Sept. 1864) effectively ended the war.

  9. This outfit also known as zentai, body wrap is a kind of straitjacket, initially started in 80s of 20th century Japan, is a synthetic form of the weird by the clothes, or the second layer of skin called the human body. At present, this spider man costume trend has already spread around the world, and the network also created a certain group of organizations divided into two groups.

  10. I wish that they would shut up so I could listen to the chorale from Jupiter.

  11. yeah because fighting a war than ended the enslavement of millions is just like fighting for the Nazis. Oh yeah, Lincoln spent money in violation of the general welfare clause. Yeah that is just like sticking people in ovens.

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