New Blog – Gettysburg Civil War Institute

13 08 2010

There’s another blog in the hot tub, this one from the Gettysburg College Civil War Institute.  Check out Civil War Institute.  OK, maybe this first post is pandering a bit – a version of that wink-wink nudge-nudge McClellan remark that some NPS rangers and other guides throw out there when they feel like they’re losing the crowd.  But I can’t blame them for putting up an attention grabber: it’s a very crowded hot tub, after all!

I’m not sure who will be contributing posts to this blog, but imagine it will be a team of folks headed up by Institute Director Peter Carmichael.  So my expectations are high.



3 responses

13 08 2010
Jim Rosebrock

Jabbing George McClellan is fashionable but gratuitous and cliché. You can always score a few points at his expense with those out there who know the least about him. Admittedly, there is a lot not to like about the man. An excellent strategic planner, organizer, and inspirational leader, McClellan unfortunately never took firm hold of his battlefields at the operational/tactical once the fighting started. His poorly organized intelligence service and untrained cavalry did not serve him well when it came to analyzing opposing force numbers. True, McClellan made the ultimate decisions but his intel was terrible. It wasn’t until Joe Hooker’s created the Bureau of Military Intelligence in 1863 that the army commander started to get accurate actionable intelligence.

He was his own worst enemy when it came to his terrible relationship with Abraham Lincoln. His inclination to snobbishly look down his nose at Lincoln (the roots of which originated in their prewar relationship when McClellan was a successful railroad executive and Lincoln was one of the company’s lawyers) led to his ultimate downfall.

Yet, McClellan built the Army of the Potomac into the formidable fighting machine that it was. George Meade said “had their been no McClellan, there would have been no Grant; for the army made no essential improvements under any of his successors.”

In the late summer of ’62, no one else could have, in the space of several days reorganized two defeated and dispirited armies hunkered down in the Washington fortifications and set them out in pursuit of Lee’s forces in a manner quite like McClellan could. Lincoln didn’t have the luxury of time to pull in another “successful” western general and Halleck was not the man for the job.

I am not a McClellan apologist by any means but as someone who has given this subject more than a little thought, I find that the more I study McClellan, the more my pendulum swings toward the center.


13 08 2010
Harry Smeltzer

As far as “looking down his nose” on Lincoln is concerned, most military men, most politicians, and frankly most of the country did the same. McC took a big cue from his friend Stanton in this regard, even borrowing the War Secretary’s derisive “original gorilla” moniker for Abe. You should really read Larry Tagg’s “The Unpoular Mr. Lincoln” – it’s an eye-opener.


13 08 2010
Jim Rosebrock

Thanks Harry.
That book is on my list.


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