Publication Date

February 2019




University Press of Kentucky


General Leonidas Polk has become one of the “whipping boys” over the years for many of the failures of the Confederacy’s Army of Tennessee in the Western Theater. His name alone conjures up inside jokes among seasoned military historians of the Civil War, and all too often this important leader is depicted in serious analyses of the Western campaigns as an incompetent fool. When portrayed alongside the fractious Braxton Bragg, under whom he served and with whom he engaged in bitter quarrels, and juxtaposed against Federal luminaries U.S. Grant and William T. Sherman, Polk generally receives poor marks as a commander. Some of those criticisms, flung by scholars who have studied the Western Theater in depth, such as T. Harry Williams, Thomas Connelly, Grady McWhiney, Steven Woodworth, and Peter Cozzens, are well-deserved. Others, as Huston Horn successfully proves in his new biography of the general, are not, or should be reconsidered in light of the historical context. Hopefully, after perusing this impressive book, many readers will agree with him.