I expect a reasonably full accounting of Halleck's California law wranglings with Edwin Stanton and his dealings with a certain West Coast politician named Joe Hooker, two topics far oustside the scope of any Centennial history.James Buchanan said, after his term as president, that he had invited Stanton into the cabinet mainly on the strength of Stanton's legal background in California land cases; he thought Stanton could help with the large number of such cases awaiting action in the attorney general's office. Halleck, of course, was Mr. California Landlaw and what we need from a Stanton or Halleck biography is the mapping of interactions here. Not that anyone reads McClellan's stitched-together posthumous memoirs, but one of the finer comic bits had Stanton and Halleck each separately sharing their (Califoria-based) hatred for each other with Mac. We need sincere, honest biographers to try to get to the bottom of that. I'm hoping Marszalek went into that matter.
Likewise, we want to know the specifics of the Hooker-Halleck vendetta, also dating to California. Responding to some comments of mine about political patronage of military careers, a friend sent this note in 2003:
I came across something that may interest you. During his time out west in the late 1850s, Joe Hooker was involved heavilly in California and Orgeon politics, serving in a minor county office and running for state assembly (and losing) out in California. During his time in Oregon, Hooker became close to Colonel J.W. Nesmith who led Douglas Democrats against Joe Lane and the dough faces in Oregon. Lane crushes this faction so the Douglas Dems go over to the Republicans who of course [are] led by....Edward Baker, who AL names his second son [...] and [who] later blunders and dies at Ball's Bluff. Nesmith and Hooker are crucial to electing Baker to the Senate in 1860. And you wonder why AL always had such faith in Fighting Joe...And wasn't it sweet, by the way, how Abraham Lincoln turned over all California patronage to Edward Baker after the latter was elected senator from Oregon? The political currents of California and Oregon must be explored to understand Halleck, Hooker, Stanton, and Baker.
That's what I pay a biographer for when I buy a book, by the way, but when I look for the goods, I find the books are filled with other stuff: broken story parts, mismatched "characters," psychodrama, neat military judgements, plot devices, and sweeping conclusions. Junk.
And at the head of the historic Stanton-Halleck-Hooker complex, there stands "the military genius of Abraham Lincoln" appointing Halleck to be general-in-chief under Stanton, after each has smeared the other; then similarly appointing Hooker to be AoP chief under his foe Halleck after Hooker declines to report to "Old Brains."
Grist for the historian's mill. Now, if we can only find an historian.