Academic journal article Military Review

LINCOLN AND MCCLELLAN: The Troubled Partnership between a President and His General

Academic journal article Military Review

LINCOLN AND MCCLELLAN: The Troubled Partnership between a President and His General

Article excerpt

LINCOLN AND MCCLELLAN: The Troubled Partnership Between a President and His General, John C. Waugh, Palgrave Macmillan, New York, 2010, 272 pages, $27.00.

Within a few months of the Battle of Fort Sumter, George B. McClellan's small army had driven Confederate forces out of western Virginia in the first campaign of the Civil War. After the Northern collapse at First Manassas (Bull Run), Abraham Lincoln needed a successful general to take command of the routed Federal forces, and the Union victories in the mountains of Virginia were enough to put McClellan in command.

McClellan was able to build the Army of the Potomac into an effective fighting force, but Lincoln's faith in McClellan was at this point the highest it would ever be. McClellan showed himself inept at commanding a large fi eld army and the two men quickly proved that they had little in common besides their loyalty to the Union. John C. Waugh's Lincoln and McClellan: The Troubled Partnership Between a President and His General traces the relationship between the two men back to its roots and explores the problems that plagued the Union high command.

Waugh points out that McClellan's elite upbringing gave him a superiority complex. There was rarely a time when McClellan did not believe his opinion was the right one. He thought highly of people who agreed with him but considered those who differed with him as inferior, including Lincoln. McClellan had held this opinion since their encounters involving the Illinois Central Railroad before the war.

Lincoln was constantly frustrated with McClellan's overcautious tendencies. McClellan was constantly overestimating Confederate troop numbers and persistently wiring Lincoln and the War Department for reinforcements. …

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