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American Rambler with Colin Woodward

Nov 2, 2020

David Dixon is the author of Radical Warrior: August Willich's Journey from German Revolutionary to Union General. Surprisingly, it is the first major biography of General Willich, whose life was the stuff of Hollywood movies. Willich was an aristocrat, born into a prominent family in Prussia. After growing up in the household of the philosopher Friedrich Schleiermacher, Willich pursued a military education before joining the army. Thus began his interesting and unconventional military career.

Willich took part in a rebellion in Germany amid the revolutions running through Europe in the late 1840s. He could have been executed for treason, but he managed to escape to England. There, he continued fighting with others, including Karl Marx.

In the 1850s, Willich moved to the U.S. and later joined the Union army. He proved a reliable and creative general, one of the best the North had in the western theater. He survived most of the major battles until a sharpshooter ended his military career in May of 1864. Willich survived and moved back home to Ohio after the war. However, his postwar career was not as exalted as his campaigns in Tennessee and Kentucky had been.  

David's previous book was The Lost Gettysburg Address, about Charles Anderson, a Civil War colonel and the governor of Ohio after the war. David talks about the challenges of working on a German subject as well his journey from a long career in marketing to becoming a full-time historian.