Civil War Dynasty

The Ewing Family of Ohio

395 pages

30 halftones

December, 2012

ISBN: 9780814773017



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Kenneth J. Heineman is Professor of History and Department Chair at Angelo State University.  He is the author of Campus Wars: The Peace Movement At American State Universities in the Vietnam Era (NYU Press, 1992), God Is a Conservative: Religion, Politics, and Morality in Contemporary America (NYU Press, 1998), A Catholic New Deal: Religion and Reform in Depression Pittsburgh, and Put Your Bodies Upon The Wheels: Student Revolt in the 1960s.

All books by Kenneth J. Heineman

For years the Ewing family of Ohio has been lost in the historical shadow cast by their in-law, General William T. Sherman. In the era of the Civil War, it was the Ewing family who raised Sherman, got him into West Point, and provided him with the financial resources and political connections to succeed in war. The patriarch, Thomas Ewing, counseled presidents and clashed with radical abolitionists and southern secessionists leading to the Civil War. Three Ewing sons became Union generals, served with distinction at Antietam and Vicksburg, marched through Georgia, and fought guerrillas in Missouri. The Ewing family stood at the center of the Northern debate over emancipation, fought for the soul of the Republican Party, and waged total war against the South.
In Civil War Dynasty, Kenneth J. Heineman brings to life this drama of political intrigue and military valor—warts and all. This work is a military, political, religious, and family history, told against the backdrop of disunion, war, violence, and grief.


  • "A thorough, revealing history of an important political and military family from Ohio during the Civil War...As warm and enticing as an oral history."

    Kirkus Reviews

  • "Heineman's fast-aced narrative brings to life a now-neglected American family as they comes into their own against the complex backdrop of a nation struggling to overcome political and social differences."

    Publishers Weekly

  • "Well researched...Civil War Dynasty does a good job of providing contextual information without losing the story.  Heineman succeeds in pulling this prominent Ohio family from the historical shadows.  This work joins a growing body of literature that focuses on the war from a Northern perspective and is an enjoyable read for both the casual and academic reader.""

    —Jeremy Taylor, Journal of Military History

  • "The book helps fill what has been significant gap in central Ohio history"

    The Columbus Dispatch

  • "In Civil War Dynasty, Heineman examines the involvement and impact of this prominent family during the turbulent era of America’s nineteenth-century geographic and socioeconomic expansion. Employing a refined combination of expository skill and analytic precision, Heineman deftly examines the confluence of forces that produced the American Civil War."

    —Dr. Fred Johnson III, Civil War Book Review

  • "Kenneth J. Heineman, a biographer of the Ewing family, believes Tom [Ewing] wanted to re-create in Kansas his father's rise to wealth and power a generation earlier on the Ohio frontier."

    —Nicole Etcheson, The New York Times: Opinionator

  • "The book is based on very sound research.  In fact, Heineman has done a thorough job of searching out the archival sources, and many members of the Ewing dynasty left collections of unpublished papers at various archives.  He also has covered most of the relevant published primary and secondary sources.  Perhaps the strongest asset of the book is the writing style.  Heineman sweeps through complicated subjects and ranges widely across a host of sub-topics with pungent phrases in an attempt to capture what he sees as the essence of the material he found in his research.  This allowed the author to cover a great deal of ground in only 289 pages of text and it makes for a very good reading experience for students at the college level and secondary level....Highly recommended for Civil War students and scholars, and an apt reading assignment for classes dealing with the Civil War, Ohio history, or mid-nineteenth-century America, it is a welcome addition to literature."

    —Earl J. Hess, The History Teacher

  • "Scholars of Civil War-era slavery and politics will appreciate Heineman's adept treatment of the Ewing's complex racial views and the context withing which they forged them, as will scholars of the emancipation, Reconstruction, and Civil War memory."

    Civil War History

  • "Kenneth Heineman’s Civil War Dynasty is an American family story as big as Bonanza and as tangled as Dynasty. The cast includes some of the nation’s major political and military figures of the mid-nineteenth century, and the family dramas unfold from Ohio, to the nation’s capital, to Sherman’s March to the Sea, and beyond. With a sure hand Heineman leads the reader through the thicket of intrigues and interests that led to civil war, hard fighting, emancipation, racial politics, and more. In doing so, he recovers the large role the Ewings played in making America and reveals the ways personality, partisanship, and principles interacted in saving it. A life-and-times history worthy of the genre."

    —Randall M. Miller, Saint Joseph’s University

  • "Extensively researched and gracefully written, Civil War Dynasty is a model history of the United States as seen through the eyes of one very important and broadly connected family.  This is a story that has long needed telling, and it is how history should be written."

    —Kyle S. Sinisi, author of Sacred Debts: State Civil War Claims and American Federalism, 1861-1880

  • "Thoroughly researched and lucidly written, Civil War Dynasty restores to its proper place one of the most important political and military families of the Civil War era. Highly recommended."

    —Mark Grimsley, author of The Hand of War: Union Military Policy Toward Southern Civilians, 1861-1865