Was AL More Like GBM Than HUG?

27 01 2011

The recent flood of posts on various blogs resulting from the Lowry controversy has been fascinating.  Now there’s one out there that’s tangential but tantalizing – tangentializing?  Check out Dmitri’s riff on Crossroads’ retort to Opinionator’s opinion.  It’s a shame that Dmitri doesn’t allow comments (that’s his right, of course), but if you want to express your thoughts – recognizing they be thoughts on the post and not knee-jerk reactions to the poster and whatever you suspect his motivations to be – feel free to comment away!  I know this is supposed to be my blog, and you may think it inappropriate for me to entertain a discussion of another blogger’s post, but hell, it IS my blog and I can do whatever I want, so there.

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10 responses

27 01 2011
Brooks D. Simpson

I like the Rotov riff. He’s essentially right in part of what he says, but Lincoln’s concern for losses was also tied to electoral politics in 1864. Historians should not offer Lincoln/McClellan and Lincoln/Grant as polar opposites, and they should not approach Lincoln/McClellan with choosing sides in mind, or see Lincoln/Grant as a harmonious perfect partnership. It wasn’t. The only variations I’ve seen on Lincoln/Grant as perfect partnership concerns Lincoln as smarter than Grant with the upper hand (T. Harry Williams and John Y. Simon) or Grant as having to deal with restrictions placed upon him by Lincoln (that would be me). I understand Lincoln’s political concerns in 1864, but I also know that some incompetent generals were in place because of those political concerns, and their performance hampered Lincoln’s reelection prospects.

See http://www.historycooperative.org/journals/jala/21.1/simpson.html

Nice to be talking history again. So much for This Was the Week That Was.

27 01 2011
Susan Evelyn McDowell Cole

Abraham Lincoln had a big territory and a big war to manage. Lately I have been looking at the Generals of the West, particularly General Patrick Edward Connor, who commanded the California Volunteers both in California and Utah. Connor had to deal with Brigham Young and the Mormons, various Indian uprisings, and other settlement issues. Abraham Lincoln found time to write to Connor.

Abraham Lincoln had time for all the issues that affected this country. He was the greatest president we have ever had.

Susan Evelyn McDowell Cole

27 01 2011

Its difficult to comment on the post without it being a comment on the poster since the set up (Lincoln/McClellan vs Lincoln/Grant) just seems to be part of Dimitri’s overall theme about “Centennial” historians and McClellan.

Anyway, I have a problem with the posts title and one of its concluding questions (“Did Lincoln become McClellan over time?”). Brooks references were to comments by Lincoln in 1864 and 1865. Dimitri seems to be implying that these statements show Lincoln evolved over time from an opposing position. I dont see it.

27 01 2011
Chris Evans

Dmitri always makes for interesting reading (even if I disagree with him sometimes). Like you I wished he allowed comments. That could make for even more fascinating discussions.

I really don’t think Lincoln became McClellan. The losses Lincoln was seeing pile up were after three years of bloody conflict. McClellan was worrying about these things right out of the gate.

28 01 2011
John Foskett

As Chris points out. Dmitri usually has something to say which is worth reading. I have the perception that on occasion it’s intended to be more in the “hair pulling” category, but even then he raises rational points. That said, I also have the perception that he tackles the near-impossible on a regular basis, i.e., generating empathy (directly or indirectly) for McClellan. As someone who thinks McClellan was a combination of “basket case” and incurable insubordinate/borderline “traitor” (cite: Phil Kearney) I respect the efforts of Dmitri, the late Joseph Harsh, et al., but it strikes me very much as the equivalent of tilting at windmills. Echoed here on Dmitri opening his blog to comments. In addition to getting some solid debate going, he might also get some supporting “research” – as in his dustup last year involving himself, McPherson, and Sears and the question of proper attribution.

30 01 2011
Dimitri Rotov

Thanks for the facilitation, Harry, and thanks to your commenters for weighing in. The headline and theme are overstated for effect but my core feeling, based on long reading, is that McClellan and Lincoln were close in their views and attitudes; that the stress between them came from perceived differences on policy and the ascibing of political motives to decisions and actions; and that Lincoln was a cold-blooded politician who knew how to cut his losses when the heat was turned up. McClellan did not deliver what the Republican papers wanted: a string of unequivocal victories progressively weakening the Southern polity. Over time, Lincoln began buying into the Republican party line which alientated the two, and he gave GBM up after the mid-terms when the collateral damage would have been minimal. Consideration to restore McClellan in 1864 are fascinating and make no sense to the history reader who has taken the hard line of Lincoln-found-Grant-done-deal.
p.s. I don’t allow comments because of my years’ long experience on Usenet and the threats I have received from would-be posters concerning what they will do starting on the day I allow comments.

1 02 2011
Chris Evans

Thanks for that info. I wondered why comments were not available and figured it had to be something like that.

2 02 2011
Noel Harrison

Dimtiri’s blog in my opinion is outstanding for its emphasis on originality as well as on provocation. In looking back on things I have written or am writing, I find myself imposing a Dimitri Test, and often fare poorly, especially when I’ve addressed Civil War art. More generally, I consider him a much needed ombudsman for my field of public history, suggesting (however caustically) new paths, not just critiquing existing ones. His wit, frequent referencing of theories of representation, and arguments on behalf of an expanded, early war historical significance for my native Northern Virginia are nice bonuses. Noel Harrison

2 02 2011
Noel Harrison

Apologies, by the way, for reordering the i’s in “Dimitri.” Noel

2 02 2011
Harry Smeltzer

Actually, it’s Dmitri. Just two “i”.

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