The Training Ground


The Training Ground

Grant, Lee, Sherman, and Davis in the Mexican War, 1846-1848

Martin Dugard

472 pages
7 maps, 12 images


December 2009


$24.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

Dugard’s spirited narrative animates a group of men whose force of character, professional skill and ability to think outside conventional limits revitalized the sclerotic arm.Publishers Weekly

For four years during the Civil War, Generals Grant and Lee clashed as bitter enemies in a war that bloodied and scorched the American landscape. Yet in an earlier time, they had worn the same uniform and fought together.

In The Training Ground, acclaimed historian Martin Dugard presents the saga of how, two decades before the Civil War, a group of West Point graduates—including Robert E. Lee, Ulysses S. Grant, Jefferson Davis, Stonewall Jackson, and William Tecumseh Sherman—fought together as brothers. Drawing on a range of primary sources and original research, Dugard paints a gripping narrative of the Mexican War, which eventually almost doubled the size of the United States.

The Training Ground vividly takes us into the thick brush of Palo Alto, where a musket ball narrowly misses Grant but kills a soldier standing near him; through the mountains and ravines of Cerro Gordo, as Lee searches frantically for a secret route into the Mexican army’s seemingly invincible position; to Monterrey, as future enemies Davis and Grant ride together into battle; down the California coast, where war-hungry Sherman seeks blood and vengeance. And we are there as the young troops mount the final heroic—and deadly—assault on Mexico City.

With narrative verve and brilliant research, The Training Ground brings to light a story of brotherhood, sacrifice, and initiation by fire.

Author Bio

Martin Dugard is the New York Times best-selling author of such nonfiction titles as The Last Voyage of Columbus, Farther Than Any Man, Knockdown, Chasing Lance, and Into Africa.


“Action-packed and peopled by intriguing characters.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Dugard’s spirited narrative animates a group of men whose force of character, professional skill and ability to think outside conventional limits revitalized the sclerotic army.”—Publishers Weekly

“Canny in its depictions of intriguing, powerful personalities and Machiavellian politics, meticulous in its textured battlefield and logistical descriptions, The Training Ground has the fast-paced feel of a good historical novel, but it’s all well-researched fact.”—American History

"The Training Ground is an interesting, often insightful account of the experiences of U.S. Grant, Robert E. Lee, William T. Sherman and Jefferson Davis during the Mexican War. . . . Worth a read for anyone interested in the Civil War and the development of senior military leadership."—A. A. Nofi, NYMAS Review

"This book gives an interesting sidelight on the Mexican War and a foretaste of the American Civil War."—Stan Moore, Denver Westerners Roundup

Table of Contents

Author's Note
Book One: Line in the Sand
One: Corpus Christi
Two: Rio Grande
Three: Rough and Ready
Four: Fields of Fire
Five: Call to Battle
Six: Fort Texas
Seven: Clash
Eight: Resaca de la Palma
Nine: Brown Bess
Ten: Volunteers
Eleven: Growing Up
Book Two: Taylor's War
Twelve: Camargo
Thirteen: Star-Spangled Banner
Fourteen: Eager for Action
Fifteen: First Mississippi
Sixteen: The Westerner
Seventeen: The Rifles
Eighteen: Supply Train
Nineteen: Prelude
Twenty: Monterrey, Day One
Twenty-One: Monterrey, Day Two
Twenty-Two: The Mortar
Book Three: Politics and War
Twenty-Three: Change of Command
Twenty-Four: The Perils of Occupation
Twenty-Five: Policy and Power
Book Four: Scott's War
Twenty-Six: Transfers
Twenty-Seven: The Artillery Officer
Twenty-Eight: One Step Closer
Twenty-Nine: California
Thirty: Taylor Stands Alone
Thirty-One: The Hacienda
Thirty-Two: Lobos Island
Thirty-Three: Invasion
Thirty-Four: National Road
Thirty-Five: Twiggs's Dilemma
Thirty-Six: Reconnaissance
Thirty-Seven: Pressing the Advantage
Book Five: The Aztec Club
Thirty-Eight: "Nothing Can Stop This Army"
Thirty-Nine: Old Glory
Forty: Conquest
Forty-One: Fourth of July
Appendix A
Appendix B
Appendix C
Selected Notes and Biographies
Selected Bibliography

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