Lincoln and McClellan: The Troubled Partnership Between a President and His General

John C. Waugh, Author . Palgrave Macmillan $27 (252p) ISBN 978-0-230-61349-2

In this enjoyable study of Civil War leadership, Waugh (Reelecting Lincoln ) has less to say about the oft-analyzed Lincoln than about Gen. George McClellan, the war's great military failure. Hailed as the Union's savior when he took command of the Army of the Potomac in 1861, McClellan was a brilliant organizer and strategist with just one flaw: he was afraid to fight. Desperate for excuses to avoid battle, he habitually overestimated Confederate numbers by a factor of three, issued incessant demands for reinforcements—his army always heavily outnumbered the rebels—and once refused to march for weeks because the horses were tired. Though the author's accounts of McClellan's battles are sketchy, he convincingly paints McClellan as a paranoid narcissist who considered Lincoln a “baboon.” Waugh's Lincoln is a long-suffering sage (lacking better generals, he could only prod McClellan to action while shielding him from critics) whose barbs are more penetrating: surveying the Union army's vast encampment, Lincoln called it “McClellan's body guard.” The dynamic between Lincoln and the toweringly neurotic McClellan makes for a revealing case study of the importance of personality and character in war. 8 pages of b&w photos. (June)

Reviewed on: 04/19/2010
Release date: 05/01/2010
Ebook - 272 pages - 978-0-230-10676-5
Paperback - 252 pages - 978-0-230-11422-7
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