The Civil War Scholar

Paul Windels III

The Civil War has fascinated me since I was a boy fifty years ago.  I had the benefit of two grandfathers who were themselves Civil War enthusiasts and the privilege of browsing in their libraries, whose contents lie before me as I write.  Yet it was the principal figures of the war themselves -- Lincoln, Grant, Sherman, Lee, Jackson, and so many others -- who have kept me rapt.  Many years ago, when I was an associate at a New York City law firm, I happened upon a first edition of The Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant at a very reasonable price and snapped it up.  It became my early morning reading and, notwithstanding the very formal tone of Grant's prose, I found it so difficult to put down that.I risked arriving late to work.  I have been hooked ever since.

Through my grandmother, Marguerite Doubleday Ripley, I am a second cousin, I believe five times removed, of Maj. Gen. Abner Doubleday and, through my grandfather James Hazen Riple,y I am a distant cousin of Confederate Brig. Gen. Roswell Ripley.  It always amused my grandfather that Doubleday fired the first gun for the United States at Fort Sumter while Ripley commanded the Confederates at Fort Moultrie, but I do not think he knew that Doubleday loathed Ripley.  Fortunately, my grandfather got along much better with the Doubleday family.  In all events, I hope to judge them both -- and all the other figures in the War -- dispassionately and based on what they accomplished.

In recent years, I helped found the Civil War Forum of Metropolitan New York in 2009 and served as its President from 2012 to 2015.  I am currently its Vice President for Programs.  I am a member of the Bar of the State of New York, of the federal courts in New York, and of the Supreme Court of the United States.  I have a J.D. from Columbia Law School and a B.A. in Ancient Greek from Yale College.

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