A Biography of Civil War General Justus McKinstry


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About the Book

From his first court martial as a cadet at West Point through his dismissal from the United States Army at the age of 49, Justus McKinstry made his career through outright cunning and manipulation of the legal system. Graduating from West Point in 1838, he eventually landed a long-sought-after position in the quartermaster corps. During his service here he took advantage of the extraordinary wartime circumstances to betray the public trust and make a profit for himself in the guise of acquiring much needed supplies. He was brought before a court of inquiry or a court martial six times during his nefarious career, yet only one time were charges initiated from within the Army itself. The final charges—once again initiated from a source outside the Army—brought his crimes to light and resulted in his dismissal from the service.
This biography takes a look at the forces within the life of Brigadier General Justus McKinstry that shaped him into the man he eventually became. It briefly discusses his upbringing as well as his unprecedented six years at West Point and his service during the Second Seminole and Mexican wars. The bulk of the text, however, concentrates on his Civil War commission and his duties as an officer of the quartermaster corps, especially his position as Chief Quartermaster of the Department of the West during the summer and fall of 1861. Special emphasis is placed on the ways in which the system itself failed McKinstry, bringing into question the ability of the Army to police itself. Sources incorporate an abundance of official records from the time period, including a transcript of McKinstry’s final court martial.

About the Author(s)

Retired administrator John K. Driscoll lives in Madison, Wisconsin.

Bibliographic Details

John K. Driscoll
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 228
Bibliographic Info: photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2006
pISBN: 978-0-7864-2385-9
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface      vii

1. The First Court      1

2. The Michigan Frontier      6

3. Cadet Gray and Army Blue      13

4. Swamps and Hammocks      30

5. The Halls of Montezuma      41

6. The Golden Shore      77

7. Wide Missouri      110

8. The Hundred Days      134

9. The Final Court      166

10. Epitaph      182

Chapter Notes      195

Bibliography      205

Index      213

Book Reviews & Awards

“thorough”—Blue & Gray Magazine; “well-documented” —Military Review; “provides a gook look at military administration during the Civil War”—The NYMAS Review.