Archive for the ‘james mcpherson’ tag
The issue of national sovereignty of the United States over the states is “indistinct, simple, and inflexible. … It is an issue which can only be tried by war, and decided by victory.” — Abraham Lincoln, 1864
“If Lincoln had been a failure, he would have lived a longer life.” — James McPherson on John Wilkes Booth’s promise to “put him through” while listening to a victory speech from Lincoln on April 11, 1865
Unlike other Lincoln biographies, which typically focus on his stance and political efforts to abolish slavery, his assassination, his humble upbringings and other topics, few, as McPherson points out, have delved specifically into Lincoln’s role as commander in chief. He was in the War Department, for instance, sending off messages and commands to his generals in the field almost more than he was anywhere else in his four-year tenure. He was the only commander in chief whose entire presidency up to that point was bookended by war. He guided the nation through the most perilous and bloody era it has ever known. This book tackles the challenges Lincoln faced in dealing with his often-slow-moving generals (i.e. McClellan, Hooker and Rosecrans), riots in New York, black troops in the military and the long effort to defeat Lee and capture Richmond, Atlanta, Vicksburg and other Confederate strongholds.
The book depicts a president intricately involved with the movements of his troops on the battlefield. Lincoln was not a military scientist, so he studiously took up the task of self-learning strategy and often dictated to his generals how he wanted Lee’s and other armies to be pursued and quelled. Unfortunately for Lincoln, McClellan and numerous generals in succession often languished in the field, constantly asking for more troops and supplies before they could proceed, all the while, Lincoln goading them to get moving. One of the most disappointing failures of McClellan was his dilly-dallying in letting Lee escape in the Shenandoah Valley campaign.