Lincoln and His Generals (Vintage Civil War Library)
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Since it was first published in 1952, Lincoln and His Generals has remained one of the definitive accounts of Lincoln’s wartime leadership. In it T. Harry Williams dramatizes Lincoln’s long and frustrating search for an effective leader of the Union Army and traces his transformation from a politician with little military knowledge into a master strategist of the Civil War. Explored in depth are Lincoln’s often fraught relationships with generals such as McClellan, Pope, Burnside, Hooker, Fremont, and of course, Ulysses S. Grant. In this superbly written narrative, Williams demonstrates how Lincoln’s persistent “meddling” into military affairs was crucial to the Northern war effort and utterly transformed the president’s role as commander-in-chief.
and Sumner to Pope, and then yielded completely to McClellan’s contention that the corps should not go too far from Washington. “Dispose of all troops as you deem best,” he wrote wearily.16 He should never have given McClellan discretionary authority to control the movement of reinforcements to Pope. This power he should have kept in his own hands, even if McClellan had been a perfect subordinate. The situation of the Union forces in Virginia posed a peculiar problem in command. The separated
addressed to Buell. The President was determined to get the answer to the question. His patience was worn out with generals who never fought because they never finished preparing. Such generals he intended to remove from the army. Buell wanted to prepare some more before he fought. He insisted that the best way to secure East Tennessee was to operate on a line from Nashville. He was right. A Federal army in East Tennessee would have supply difficulties unless it controlled a railroad to the
waterways in Louisiana down to the Red River, from which it could enter the Mississippi and ascend the river and transport the army to the east side below Vicksburg. In order to secure a continuous water connection to the Red, another canal had to be dug. It was partially completed, but it too was unserviceable. Grant said later that he had little faith that any of these attempts would succeed. He said that he had worked out a plan to take Vicksburg that would have to wait until spring for
“Better leave it where the law of the case has placed it,” he advised McClernand.47 McClernand did not want to rest his case, but Lincoln had closed it and closed also McClernand’s military career. McClernand remained on inactive status until near the end of the war when he finally received a minor assignment. Another of Lincoln’s political generals had been tried, used for what he was worth, and discarded. During the winter months of 1863, “Fighting Joe” Hooker was reorganizing the Army of the
that the battle had resulted “in no success to us,” and criticized the part of his army at Fredericksburg for not coming to his aid and making his success complete.65 Lincoln could not tell from the despatches of Hooker and Butterfield how the battle had resulted. Secretary of the Navy Welles saw the President at the War Department on the afternoon of the fourth waiting for more bulletins. Lincoln said that he had a feverish anxiety to learn what had happened but could get no reliable reports. On