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Orlando M. Poe:
Civil War General and Great Lakes Engineer

Recipient of the Historical Society of Michigan's 2010 State History Award

Recipient of the Library Of Michigan's 2010 Michigan Notable Books Award

Finalist in the History category for ForeWord Reviews 2009 Book of the Year Award

Finalist in the Biography category for the Society of Midland Authors 2009-2010 Awards

The first biography of William T. Sherman’s chief engineer and the man whose post–Civil War engineering work changed Great Lakes navigation forever

"Once in a while, a new book comes along that is both original and a real contribution to our understanding of the Civil War. Paul Taylor’s biography of Orlando Poe is such a book."
Dr. Philip Shiman, from the Foreword

Taylor's work stands out among Civil War biographies for its comprehensive treatment of its subject at both the personal and professional level. Readers with an interest in the United States' formative years during and following the Civil War will find it an exceptionally detailed look at a man very much of his time, who played a significant role in shaping his country's future."
Jon Guttman in America's Civil War

"Due to its clear narrative and insightful analysis of the man and his times, this will remain the seminal biography of Poe. This is an excellent biography and is an important contribution not only to Civil War historiography, but also as an examination of the development of the American military as a profession during the 19th century."
Civil War News

“Paul Taylor provides an insightful and multifaceted study of a talented engineer and soldier who rendered valuable, but unsung, service to his country.  This book presents the complete picture of Orlando Poe, not just his military service, and enlightens us to the mind of an ambitious Nineteenth-Century Man.”
Dr. Tom Clemens, Professor of History, Hagerstown Community College
“Taylor’s crisp narrative chronicles the actions of a military engineer whose performance from Knoxville and Atlanta to the Great Lakes earned him the gratitude of such luminaries as William T. Sherman, Ambrose Burnside, and others.  More important, the author offers the reader a rich, nuanced look into the careerist mind-set of the nineteenth-century professional army officer, presenting Orlando Metcalfe Poe as a man of intense personal ambition veiled always under the cloak of public restraint. This is a first-rate volume that places Poe firmly within the military, political, and social contexts of his age.”
Christopher S. Stowe, United States Army Command and General Staff College


Published in 2009 by the Kent State University Press of Kent, Ohio. 6" x 9", 360 pgs., 23 illustrations, 15 maps, bibliography, index

Orlando M. Poe chronicles the life of one of the most influential yet underrated and overlooked soldiers during the Civil War. After joining the Union Army in 1861, Poe commanded the 2nd Michigan Infantry in the Peninsula Campaign and led brigades at Second Bull Run and Fredericksburg. He was then sent west and became one of the Union heroes in the defense of Knoxville. Poe served under several of the war’s greatest generals, including George McClellan and William T. Sherman, who appointed him chief engineer to oversee the Atlanta Campaign, Sherman’s March to the Sea, and the war's concluding campaign in the Carolinas. Though technically only a captain in the regular army at the war’s end, Poe was one of Sherman’s most valued subordinates, and he was ultimately appointed brevet brigadier general for his bravery and service. After the war, Poe supervised the design and construction of numerous Great Lakes lighthouses, all of which are still in service. He rejoined Sherman’s staff in 1873 as engineer aide-de-camp and continued his role as trusted advisor until the general’s retirement in 1884. Poe then returned to his adopted home in Detroit where he began planning his ultimate post–Civil War engineering achievement: the design and construction of what would become the largest shipping lock in the world at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. Mining an extensive collection of Poe’s unpublished personal papers that span his entire civil and military career, and illustrating the narrative with many previously unpublished photographs, Paul Taylor brings to life for the first time the story of one of the nineteenth century’s most overlooked war heroes.