Halleck, Henry (Wager)(1815–72) soldier; born in Westerville, N.Y. An 1839 West Point graduate, he established a reputation as an authority on military defense before serving in California (1847–53). He resigned to study law (1854) and wrote two once-important books on mining law. Highly successful in both law and business, he accepted a commission as a major general when the Civil War broke out (1861). He was named general-in-chief of the Union armies (1862–64); overly devoted to details, and cold in his dealings with others, he proved indecisive and ineffectual in engagements and was effectively demoted when Grant became supreme commander in March 1864. Despite his lack of success in the war, he stayed on in various commands almost to his death.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.