GONE FOR SOLDIERS
by Jeff Shaara, 2000
It is 1847, Mexico, and the United States has sent its army to invade foreign soil for the first time. The story follows closely the experiences of two main characters. Robert E. Lee is a forty-year-old captain, who has built a solid reputation in the United States army for efficiency and excellence as an engineer, but who has never seen combat. His commanding officer is the grand old man of the army, “Old Fuss and Feathers,” Major General Winfield Scott, who has come down from Washington to take command of the army’s invasion of Vera Cruz. The ultimate goal is victory, by the capture of the capital of Mexico City, an overland march that will take Scott’s army away from its supply line, and all communication with the hand-wringing government in Washington. And despite the arrogant assertions of their politicians, the Americans are up against a serious and dangerous enemy, the Mexican dictator Santa Anna, whose army greatly outnumbers Scott’s meager force. But the commanding general will not be denied, and leads his men in one of the most daring campaigns in military history.
As the army moves inland, Lee performs with surprising heroism, demonstrating to Scott that it is the young West Point educated professional soldier who is the future of the army. Growing into the role as Scott’s engineer and scout, Lee discovers the shocking brutality of war, and experiences combat and its consequences with old friends and new acquaintances, Thomas Jackson, Ulysses Grant, James Longstreet, George Meade, George Pickett, Joe Johnston, men whose names will rise in prominence in a very different war fourteen years later.