ONCHIOTA — The most recent effort by Col. David Fitz-Enz to capture America’s history takes a thorough look at more than two dozen U.S. commanders who led the fight against Great Britain during the War of 1812.
“Hacks, Sycophants, Adventurers, & Heroes” offers a candid view of the men who offered support and expertise for President and Commander-in-Chief James Madison during the war that would decide the future of the fledgling American nation.
“I didn’t want to tell a linear story (of the War of 1812) that would bore people to death,” Fitz-Enz said of his decision to write a series of chapters devoted to the most important military leaders of the time. “What’s really interesting about war is the people who where a part of the war, who were impacted by the war.”
After spending three years researching the military leaders of the time, Fitz-Enz began to piece the individual stories together, starting with the captain of the U.S.S. Constitution, Issac Hull, and ending with James Wilkinson, commander of the army in the northern United States during the war.
“President Madison was incapable of conducting war,” said Fitz-Enz, a retired colonel from the U.S. Army. “He was a politician and, more importantly, an intellectual, but he was not trained in (warfare). He was totally out of his area when this war was dropped on his doorstep.”
Madison turned to others to conduct the acts of war, men who sometimes were very capable and sometimes were as incompetent in warfare as the president.
“These are the stories of those who rose to the occasion,” Fitz-Enz said of the volume. “These are the personal stories of 25 commanders.”
Fitz-Enz began his research with an effort to understand how these American commanders came to be in positions of leadership and how they handled those positions once thrust into war.